Preparing for the H-1B Season
USCIS recently announced that the H-1B cap for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 has been reached. As many are aware, each year Congress allows up to 65,000 new H-1B visas to be issued (and an additional 20,000 for those with a US Master’s degree) as a way for US companies to temporarily employ foreign nationals in specialty occupations. Though FY 2011 is now in the history books, the new H-1B cap season is just around the corner. This year, H-1B cap season will officially begin on Friday, April 1, 2011, for all those petitioners wishing to take advantage of the “early bird” filing special. In years past, the H-1B cap was routinely reached within days as opposed to months. April was truly the month of showers, albeit showers of H-1B petitions flooding USCIS field offices. Last year’s H-1B slump was a clear representation of the depressed US economy and decreased workforce. However, H-1B season can be unpredictable and it is never wise to “rest easy” based on a previous year’s performance. Burned into many memories are the recent years in which readied foreign workers were denied H-1B visas because their applications were received after the quota was reached. Now is the time for organizations to remain vigilant and sufficiently plan for the upcoming filing season. Sophisticated online case management systems like LawLogix EDGE significantly help with this process, connecting practitioners and petitioning employers electronically. Key system features can be used to leverage technology to expedite data intake and petition readiness. Following are a few practical tips to ensure a firm foothold in the potential coming rush:
- Utilize company job records: Company job records allow for easy cloning of vital job information that may be redundant across foreign nationals within a given petitioning employer. With the company job record many pieces of data pre-populate the foreign national’s record, and the job record can be further refined to suit the needs of the individual petition. This upfront investment pays off ten-fold during form drafting as many fields within the job record feed directly to the I-129 and ETA-9035 forms.
- Utilize online questionnaires: Online questionnaires can be used to gather important information about the foreign national and petitioning employer. Foreign national questionnaires can be made visible and editable to your HR contact for further data intake assistance.
- Provide a copy of the drafted LCA for easy posting to meet Department of Labor Regulations: The drafted ETA-9035 can be placed in Review and made visible to the petitioning company via the online portal prior to submission to iCERT. The HR contact may retrieve the PDF image and print for posting. Conversely, a recent blog posting by guest blogger Paul Zulkie, Streamlining Compliance With the 4th LCA Requirement: Notice of the Filing illustrates another route of transmission of this necessary piece of the application process via an e-mailing technique.
- Utilize “Pending Forms” to share finalized I-129 forms: This feature enables organizations to provide finalized I-129 forms electronically for company signature. Through the online portal, HR representatives have easy access to all relevant finalized I-129 petitions within the organization for quick printing. Company representatives can download the PDF forms for signature and swiftly return them to your office.
With these features at practitioners’ disposal, it is important to remember that any and all modifications to streamline and automate the process is a win-win for clients and organizations. Decreased courier fees, safe-guarding sensitive data via secure online transmission, and sharing of the workload with client and staff all contribute to a more robust bottom-line and satisfied client. More importantly, embracing these technological advances allows organizations to meet the demands of an ever-changing workforce and a seemingly unforgiving government agency. Want to learn more about how LawLogix EDGE can help streamline the H-1B process? Current EDGE clients can contact Customer Support here or by calling us at 602-357-4240 ext. 2 for complete details. New clients interested in learning more the LawLogix EDGE system can contact us hereor call 602-357-4240 ext. 1. Also, please visit our website at www.lawlogix.com for general information.