Today, USCIS officially announced April 1, 2019 as the start date of FY 2020 H-1B cap season. USCIS also explained changes to the H-1B application process itself, including how premium processing will work, the agency’s new H-1B data hub, and an update to the order in which cap cases are selected.
Rather than fully suspending the premium processing requests, the agency has decided to offer it in two phases: first to FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status, and then secondly to all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions. Premium processing for the first phase will commence on May 20, 2019.
Applicants wishing to use premium processing for their H-1B petitions requesting a change of status may concurrently file Form I-907 with the H-1B petition on April 1. These petitions will not be processed by USCIS until after all data entry on cap cases has been completed, around May 20, 2019. Petitioners may also convert cases filed as a change of status and picked in the H-1B lottery to premium processing after May 20, 2019 if they prefer. The rest of the FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions will likely be able to upgrade to premium processing in June 2019.
H-1B Data Hub
The new H-1B Employer Data Hub — available on April 1st — will allow the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year, NAICS industry code, company, name, city, state, or zip code. The hub is meant to allow members of the public to calculate approval and denial rates as well as review which employers are using the H-1B program, therefore increasing transparency between the agency and the public.
As previously noted, the Department of Homeland Security has reversed the order in which USCIS will select petitions. The purpose of the reversal is to increase the chances that more advanced degree H-1B petitions will be selected in any lottery.