Looking Ahead – Corporate Immigration Trends Report

Looking Ahead – Corporate Immigration Trends Report

December 20, 2019

WR presents its annual “Looking Ahead – Corporate Immigration Trends for 2020”. The report aims to keep employers and HR professionals ahead of the curve in an ever-changing immigration landscape. Expected trends in 2020 include filing fee increases, the likelihood of EB-2 and EB-3 worldwide retrogression early in the year, increased site visits at employers of STEM OPT students, and the launch of a new electronic registration system for CAP SUBJECT H-1Bs starting on March 1st.

2020 Trend: Increased Corporate Budgeting for Government Filing Fees

WR Analysis: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed to raise immigration and naturalization fees charged by USCIS and is taking public comments through December 30th. DHS is expected to implement a new fee schedule with sweeping changes in early March. The proposed fee increases have an average weighted increase of 21% and span a broad range of visa categories. An egregious example is the proposed increase for the naturalization application (Form N-400) fee of 83%, raising the fee from $640 to $1,170.

The filing fee for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing increased on December 2nd to $1,440, a difference of $30.

2020 Trend: Possible Early Year Retrogression in EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide Preference Visa Categories

WR Analysis: Historically, the EB-2 (masters) and EB-3 (skilled worker) preference visa categories experience backlogs during the late summer. However, Charles Oppenheim, Director of Visa Controls for the Department of State, has warned that retrogression in these categories may come much earlier than usual in 2020.

In the December 2019 Visa Bulletin, the EB-2 and EB-3 Final Action Dates were listed as current for foreign nationals born in all countries except for China, India, and the Philippines (only 3rd preference is backlogged for the Philippines). However, Section E of the Visa Bulletin  warned that increased demand for Employment-based adjustment of status cases could lead to Final Action Dates in the EB-2, EB-3, and EB-3 Other Worker categories, causing retrogression earlier in 2020.

The January 2020 Visa Bulletin has clarified these expectations advising that a EB-3 Final Action Date will be imposed “no later than March” and a EB-2 Final Action Date, “at some point during the second half of the fiscal year.”

WR recommends that clients consider filing any eligible EB-2 and EB-3 adjustment-of-status applications as soon as possible.

2020 Trend: Expected Increased in the Number of Applicants in H-1B CAP Lottery Conducted Via New H-1B Electronic Registration System

WR Analysis: The H-1B visa is one of the most critical U.S. work visas as it allows certain professionals performing in a specialty occupation to obtain a 3-year work visa that can be renewed for up to six years. USCIS approves 85,000 cap-subject H-1B visa petitions annually, with 20,000 reserved for U.S. master’s degree positions and 65,000 for bachelor’s degree positions. Due to high demand, a lottery is necessary to select the 85,000 H-1B visa holders.

On December 6th, 2019, USCIS confirmed that it will be using a new online H-1B registration system to select the lottery winners before the H-1B applications are filed. This is a major change that creates a more efficient process where employers must register applicants first and only those applicants who are selected submit a full application. With the registration fee at a nominal $10, many predict a surge in applications.

WR recommends that employers initiate the H-1B process as soon as possible, so that your WR team can evaluate eligibility and prepare all the necessary documents.

For more information, read WR’s Employer’s At-a-Glance Guide to USCIS’ New H-1B Lottery Process and REGISTER for our January 8th, 2020 H-1B Webinar.

2020 Trend: ICE Site Visits for STEM OPT Trainees 

WR Analysis:  ICE has started to conduct on-site inspections for STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment pursuant to 8 CFR section 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(11). Employers of STEM OPT Trainees should read WR’s Employer & H.R. Guidance for ICE Site Inspections of STEM OPT Trainees or contact their WR attorney for additional guidance on how to remain compliant. The site visits will evaluate how the salary of STEM OPT employees is determined, whether there is sufficient structure to provide supervision and training of the employee, and the nature of the employer/employee relationship at any third-party worksites.

WR wishes its clients and friends Happy Holidays!

2020-01-07T20:10:43-08:00 December 20th, 2019|

WR is a world leader in global mobility using WRapid, the firm’s immigration management system Powered by Salesforce, to facilitate the movement of talent worldwide.

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