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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced the H-1B registration period for the fiscal year 2023: March 1 through March 18. It’s anticipated that demand for the much sought-after H-1B visa will once again outstrip supply. Consequently, proactive employers will want to begin preparing for the H-1B registration soon to ensure everything is in order prior to the registration period and avoid a silly oversight costing them the chance at securing one of these valuable visas.    

What is the H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. The number of H-1B visas is capped per fiscal year at 85,000—20,000 H-1B visas are allocated for applicants who hold a master’s degree or higher, while the minimum education requirement for the remaining 65,000 is a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. 
There are some H-1B visas that are not counted against the cap. The most notable of these are for foreign workers employed by H cap-exempt organizations, such as institutions of higher learning, related and affiliated nonprofit entities associated with an institution of higher education (like teaching hospitals affiliated with university medical schools), and research organizations that are either non-profits or part of the federal government. 

H-1B Registration Timetable 

The fiscal year 2023 H-1B registration period will run from 12 pm (noon) eastern time on March 1 through 12 pm (noon) eastern time on March 18. It’s during this time that prospective petitions and representatives are required to submit registrations through the USCIS online system, myUSCIS. If enough registrations are received to meet the H-1B cap by March 18—which will more likely happen—USCIS will randomly select registrations. USCIS will send selection notifications to myUSCIS accounts by March 31. Employers will then have 90 days to file H-1B cap petitions for selected registrants.

H-1B Registration Timeline

  • March 1: H-1B registration period opens at 12 pm eastern time
  • March 18: H-1B registration period closes at 12 pm eastern time
  • March 31: Selection notifications are sent by USCIS
  • April 1: H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year are able to be filed

H-1B Registration Process

To register a potential H-1B visa recipient, employers or their authorized representatives must pay a $10 fee for each prospective petition and fill out some general information about them. To register a prospective H-1B recipient, you’ll need info such as their:
  • Full name
  • Gender
  • Date and country of birth
  • Country of citizenship
  • Passport number, if applicable
  • Advanced degree cap qualifications, if applicable
USCIS will assign a confirmation number to each registration submitted to the FY 2023 H-1B cap. The number is simply used to track registrations and is not for tracking case status. 
To register a prospective petitioner, an organization is required to have a myUSCIS account for each Employer Identification Number (EIN) entity that will sponsor beneficiaries for the FY 2023 cap season. This is regardless of whether an employer works with an immigration attorney to submit registrations or does so on its own. It’s important to note that you cannot create a new account until February 21 and trying to create one in advance of this date can create enormous headaches down the road. 

How to Prepare for the H-1B Registration Process 

H-1B registration arrives quickly and is over seemingly just as fast. Employers should start to identify prospective H-1B visa candidates as soon as possible. Some examples of where an employee may need an H Visa: Students working under Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and will need an H-1B visa to be eligible to be employed in the U.S. once their OPT or CPT expires. Candidates currently in H-1B status with an H-1B cap-exempt employer (institutions of higher education or a related or affiliated non-profit entity, nonprofit research organizations, or governmental research organizations) seeking employment opportunities with cap-subject employers or candidates in other nonimmigrant work status such as TN, H-3, H-2, O-1, and J-1 but need to change their status to H-1B.

GoffWilson Immigration 

We strongly recommend starting the H-1B application process as soon as possible and no later than February 15, 2022. We can help employers to develop a sound H-1B strategy—ensuring everything from hitting key deadlines to identifying the right people to put into the H-1B process.
GoffWilson Immigration solely practices immigration law and has assisted thousands of employers and employees with H-1B applications over our decades in practice. GoffWilson is a valuable partner through the entire H-1B process, helping to smoothly navigate everything from registration to filing a full petition. Contact GoffWilson today to learn how we can help set you up for a successful H-1B season.

Our informative must-do seminar—Clarity vs. Confusion: Navigating the World of I-9s in 2022—is coming up fast! Be on top of your game. Register Today!
The half-day webinar is Thursday, January 27, 2022. Here are some reasons you should register right now:
  1. You want to be current on the latest trends in I-9s.
  2. You need a refresher. Review with us new questions, choices and solutions made in completing I-9s, how to correct flawed forms and how to avoid them.
  3. You have some nagging questions about completing I-9s that you really want answered by the pro’s.
  4. Your remote hires, recent merger, potential merger or federal contracts present challenges that can be met following this informative seminar.
  5. HRCI credit and a certificate are provided to you so you maintain your HR accreditation.
  6. Our three attorney panel walks you through real examples and you receive an up to date downloadable workbook to use as a future reference.
  7. We have some awesome give-aways planned for you!
Visit our website for more information or click here to register now.

On December 15, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility rules related to Form I-9 compliance—the policy will now run until April 30, 2022.

History of Increased I-9 Flexibility

If the extension of I-9 is beginning to feel routine, that’s because it is. This marks the 12th time the policy has been extended since DHS issued the initial guidance on March 20, 2020. GoffWilson has covered the extensions of this rule thoroughly on our blawg:

What is Allowed By Increased I-9 Flexibility 

DHS’s extension of its increased I-9 flexibility is the result of the precautions taken by employers and employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased I-9 rule flexibility allows employers operating remotely to postpone the in-person inspection of documents required when completing Form I-9. Instead, the rule allows employers to examine documents remotely via email, fax, or video link—provided they make the appropriate annotation and perform a physical, in-person inspection within three days of resuming normal operations. 
The initial policy only covered employers and workplaces that were operating completely remotely because of the pandemic. However, it was expanded in April 2021 to offer more fluidity for employers slowly returning to in-person operations, allowing them to remotely inspect I-9 documentation for remote employees. The April expansion wasn’t retroactive, and only applied to employees onboarded after its implementation.

The Future of I-9 Flexibility 

The future of increased I-9 flexibility remains unclear and employers are encouraged to monitor the DHS and ICE websites for updates on when the extensions will be terminated and normal operations resume. That said, with COVID-19 cases surging in much of the country and the rule having been extended numerous times already, it’s reasonable to assume another extension when the current one is set to expire. Of course, they could just as easily end the extension without warning.   
It’s also worth noting that the DHS is seeking information from employers on their use of remote verification options, and exploring “alternative options” for physical document examination in the future.

GoffWilson Immigration 

Because of the uncertainty of the future of increased Form I-9 flexibility and the complexity it has added to I-9 compliance, it’s vital for employers to understand the rules and have a strategy in place for when the DHS rescinds the additional I-9 flexibility. GoffWilson has more than 30 years of experience practicing immigration law and is a valuable asset to businesses of all sizes when it comes to I-9 compliance.
GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and offers a number of I-9 services to employers, including comprehensive company audits, training workshops, and public training seminars. If you have a question about what the most recent I-9 flexibility extension means for your business or want to have a plan in place for when normal operations resume, GoffWilson can help. Contact GoffWilson today to learn how we can ensure your business is I-9 compliant. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion.

In response to a lawsuit, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has agreed to change its policy in regards to L-2 and H-4 Employment Authorization Documents (EAD). This is fantastic news for the tens of thousands of spouses of high-skilled foreign nationals who have suffered substantial delays in the processing of their work authorization—causing them to stop working or to lose their job. By law, USCIS is required to process applications within 30 days, but recently it has taken up to a year or more. 

The Settlement 

The legal settlement with USCIS will bring relief to many of the L-2 and H-4 spouses by eliminating hurdles in the employment authorization process. 
L-2: Once the settlement goes into effect, L-2 spouse visa holders will have automatic work authorization and will no longer need to apply for an EAD. Simply put, L-2 visa holders (with a valid L-2 I-94) are authorized to work. 
H-4: Once implemented by USCIS, certain H-4 spouses with EAD renewal applications—those who timely file EAD renewals and have H-4 status beyond their current EAD expiration—are eligible for an automatic extension of their work authorization for up to 180 days. The length of the auto-extension will be the earlier of the following:
  • The end of the H-4 status, as determined by their I-94 record
  • The approval or denial of the EAD application
  • 180 days from the current EAD expiration date

What the Settlement Means 

The settlement will provide a sigh of relief to many L-2 and H-4 spouses who have faced significant disruptions to their work lives due to processing delays. USCIS will also benefit from this settlement—it eliminates a huge processing backlog and frees up adjudicators to help in other workstreams. Lastly, it’s great news for the country as a whole as it adds valuable workers to an economy struggling to fill jobs.

What Lies Ahead

While USCIS has come to a settlement agreement, implementation is not immediate. USCIS is expected to announce formal policy guidance within the next 120 days that details how it will execute the new policies and address Form I-9 employment eligibility verification. There is also still litigation pending that could achieve broader changes and further address delays for employment authorization that affect H-4 spouses.

GoffWilson Immigration 

GoffWilson Immigration continues to monitor developments related to the USCIS settlement and will post updates as more information becomes available. GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and has been a valued partner to businesses and families navigating the complex and ever-changing immigration process for over three decades. Contact GoffWilson today if you have questions about the USCIS settlement or any other immigration issues.

In what’s becoming a regular occurrence, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has once again extended its flexibility in complying with the requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. This is the eleventh time increased I-9 flexibility has been extended since the issuance of the initial guidance on March 20, 2020.

What the I-9 Flexibility Extension Means for Employers

The extension of increased I-9 flexibility has been a long and ongoing occurrence for employers and something we’ve detailed extensively on our blawg:  
The latest extension will run through December 31, 2021. By the end of the year, the DHS will have to decide whether to once again extend I-9 flexibility or resume “normal” operations. The DHS cautions employers to monitor both the DHS’s and ICE’s Workforce Enforcement Announcements for information about when the extensions end and normal operations resume.

What is Increased I-9 Flexibility?

The increased I-9 flexibility allows employers more maneuverability when reviewing an employee’s identity and employment authorization documents, enabling them to verify an employee’s identity and authorization documents remotely using fax, email, or a video link. Employers should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the delay of physical inspection. When “normal” operations resume, employers have just three business days to physically inspect the documents. 
It’s worth noting there are different standards for who qualifies for increased I-9 flexibility depending on the date an employee was hired:
  • Employees hired before May 31, 2021, only qualified for I-9 flexibility if their workplaces were operating totally remotely—that is, no employees were physically present at a work location. 
  • Employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, are offered more leeway and only need to work in a remote setting due to COVID-19 precautions to qualify for increased I-9 flexibility, as the DHS and ICE made adjustments in order to accommodate for evolving workplaces.    
Employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, will remain exempt from physical document inspection requirements until they return to non-remote work on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the increased flexibility related to I-9 is terminated. Employers returning to a hybrid office/work-from-home arrangement that completed I-9s remotely will need to verify I-9 documentation in person within three days, once return to work is initiated.  

Increased I-9 Flexibility Going Forward

It’s difficult to predict how the DHS will handle increased I-9 flexibility going forward, but given that it has been extended numerous times, and COVID-19 continues to disrupt workplaces, it’s likely it will get extended again at the start of 2022. Then again, there is a chance that the flexibility could end one day without warning. 

The Challenge of Increased I-9 Flexibility  

Increased I-9 flexibility has provided a valuable solution to employers dealing with the challenges presented by COVID-19, but it also poses some serious issues for employers. Most notably challenged are employers that have hired a large number of employees who completed their I-9s through the exception—they’ll have just three days to complete an in-person review of required documentation when “normal” operations resume. 
Furthermore, employers must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for every employee. Proactive businesses will want to have a plan in place to remain in I-9 compliance by verifying these employees’ documentation within the three-day window. 

GoffWilson Immigration Law

GoffWilson has more than 30 years of experience practicing immigration law and is a trusted partner to businesses of all sizes in I-9 compliance—assisting through comprehensive company audits, training workshops, and public training seminars. If you have a question about what the latest extension means for your business or want to develop a strategy for when “normal” operations resume, GoffWilson can help. Contact GoffWilson today to learn how we can assist your business in navigating I-9 regulations or any immigration issues. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that certain F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can file Form I-765 online beginning April 15, 2021. This creates a more user-friendly option for eligible students and will help increase the efficiencies for adjudicators. 
USCIS has made news recently for lengthy OPT delays and in February, 18 international students filed a class-action lawsuit against USCIS and ICE in response to delays.  

What is OPT?

OPT is a temporary employment option that allows F-1 students to work in positions related to their area of study. Eligible students can apply to work for up to 12 months before completing their studies (pre-completion OPT) or for 12 months after completing their academic program (post-completion OPT). F-1 students graduating with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math ) degrees are eligible to apply for an additional 24-month OPT extension. 
Who is Eligible to File Online?
Online filing is limited to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT. F-1 students eligible to file online fall into one of three categories: 
  • Pre-Completion OPT
  • Post-Completion OPT
  • 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM graduates
Filing online is not mandatory. USCIS will continue to accept the latest paper version of Form I-765 by mail.

Benefits of the Online Option 

The option to electronically file Form I-765 offers students a handful of benefits over the traditional paper form. Students filing online have 24/7 access to the status of their case and expedited communication with USCIS—notices are sent online, eliminating mailing time. Form I-765 applications are processed in order of arrival, and while online submissions aren’t prioritized over paper forms, filing online will get you in the queue more quickly.    

Increasing Online Access

The move to allow the filing of Form I-765 is a positive step toward increasing electronic options at USCIS. According to Tracy Renaud, Senior Official Performing the Duties of USCIS Director, “USCIS remains committed to maximizing our online filing capabilities.” 

GoffWilson Immigration 

GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and has a decades-long history of helping businesses, institutions of higher education, and students navigate ever-changing and complex immigration laws. If you have a question about the new online filing option, STEM OPT compliance, or any other immigration questions, contact GoffWilson today. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion!

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has extended their Form I-9 flexibility policy an additional 60 days—it’s now set to expire on May 31, 2021. They have also altered the language of the original guidance to broaden its scope.  

I-9 Flexibility Timeline  

The guidance that expanded I-9 flexibility was originally instituted on March 19, 2020, in response to a vast swath of U.S. businesses transitioning their workforce to remote operations because of COVID-19. This is the ninth time the policy has been extended since its implementation, a process we have detailed extensively on our blawg: 
It’s also a process we continue to monitor and advise clients on as businesses look toward the future, and begin to resume “normal” operations. 

I-9 Flexibility Expanded Range

One notable change in the updated guidance alters who this provision affects. Prior to the latest guidance, eligibility was limited to “employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented…” In a concession to today’s evolving workplace, the DHS and ICE have expanded the scope of whom the provision applies to, which now includes “employees hired on or after April 1, 2021” who “work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions…”
This change allows some flexibility for companies with only small teams working in the office—such as security or IT—while the majority of their workforce is still operating remotely. It also accommodates businesses slowly phasing onsite employees back in. It’s important to note that this provision isn’t retroactive, but only applies going forward. 

Looking Ahead at I-9 Flexibility

The latest increased I-9 flexibility provision has assuaged some concerns of employers, but questions remain moving forward, the largest of which revolves around the termination of the guidance. Employers are encouraged to monitor the DHS and ICE websites for additional updates regarding the status of Form I-9 completion flexibilities and there is some fear that the policy could end one day without warning. For this reason, we encourage employers to update I-9s in person whenever possible. 
We are advising employers to have a strategy for when this guidance expires and normal I-9 processing resumes. Currently, businesses will have three days after the policy ends to inspect documents, update expired List B documents in person, and ensure original forms are accounted for. We also suggest that employers first confirm they’re eligible to take advantage of the expanded scope of I-9 flexibility before moving to virtual completion. 

GoffWilson Immigration Law

The fluidity of the order makes it challenging for businesses to form and implement long-term I-9 compliance plans, but GoffWilson can help. For more than 30 years, we have practiced immigration and have been an important resource—through comprehensive company audits, training workshops, and public training seminars—for businesses of all sizes committed to remaining in I-9 compliance. Contact GoffWilson today to learn how we can help your business navigate the ever-changing I-9 regulations.

Good news for foreign-born workers and employers: the Biden administration has allowed a pandemic-related ban on a handful of temporary-worker visas to expire. This move will make a wide swath of U.S. businesses very happy—the controversial ban was the subject of a lawsuit brought by several large business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

The Worker-Visa Ban

The ban on temporary-worker visas was implemented last June when the Trump administration issued the Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak. The ban covered temporary employment visas such as:  
  • H-1B
  • H-2B
  • L-1A
  • L-1B
  • Certain J-1 
The ban also encompassed corresponding visas such as the H-4, which are issued to the spouses of workers on H-1B visas, and the L-2, which is for spouses of employees on L-1A and L-1B visas. Originally, the ban was set to expire on December 31, 2020, but it was extended until March 31, 2021, before President Trump left office. 

What the Ban’s Expiration Means for Employers

The most notable element of the Biden administration allowing the proclamation to lapse is the end of the moratorium on H-1B visas, a temporary-worker visa for individuals in specialty occupations that require specialized knowledge. For example, H-1B visas are frequently used by technology companies to fill their ranks of coders and engineers.
Tech companies have been lobbying for the elimination of this ban since its implementation. In August, some of the nation’s tech giants—such as Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, and Twitter—signed a brief challenging it. It’s also been reported that there has been pressure on the Biden administration to lift the ban since taking office. 
Among the many benefits of the ban’s expiration is that it allows technology companies to access much-needed skilled employees. During the height of the pandemic, while many brick-and-mortar companies struggled, technology-based businesses thrived, outpacing the pool of qualified employees. A report from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) shows job vacancy postings increased in computer-related positions by 11% as of March 2021.

Affected Visas Important to Other Industries  

High-skilled and high-profile visas like the H-1B, L-1A, and L-1B will steal headlines, but letting the ban expire also opens up H-2B visas—used to fill temporary, seasonal jobs in non-agricultural industries, like hospitality—before a busy summer season. Regionally, Maine businesses and lawmakers have already signaled the need for these important employees ahead of what looks likely to be a bustling tourist season.

Other Favorable Immigration Moves

Allowing the ban on temporary workers to expire comes on the heels of other favorable immigration policies from the Biden administration. At the beginning of March, they revoked the previous administration’s proclamation banning legal immigration for family members of U.S. citizens and residents. 

GoffWilson Immigration 

GoffWilson has long been a partner of employers seeking to access a global labor force. From securing H-1B visas to bring the world’s best and brightest minds to fill valuable, hard-to-place positions to ensuring access to much-needed seasonal workers, put our 30+ years of experience to work for you. Contact us today—immigration is what we do!

H-1B filing season is just around the corner and if your business is hopeful to land one of these coveted visas, the time to start preparing is now. USCIS recently announced the initial registration period will run between March 9, 2021, and March 25, 2021. 

The H-1B Visa Application Process

For the second year in a row, an online registration process will be used to streamline the exchange of information between USCIS and employers. Nominal information is needed to register, such as:
  • Legal name 
  • Gender
  • Date of birth 
  • Country of birth
  • Country of citizenship
The registration will also want to know if the applicant is, or will be, eligible for the advanced-degree cap. 
Provided registrations outnumber the H-1B cap—there is no indication this won’t happen—prospective petitioners will be chosen via lottery, as has been the practice in prior years. The DHS announced the delay of the implementation of a Trump-era regulation that would have shifted the lottery to a wage-tiered system. 
USCIS will notify employers and their immigration counsel of winning registrations by March 31, 2021. On April 1, 2021, USCIS will start to accept cap petitions. It’s important to note that, while registration requires minimal information, it is imperative that businesses enter this period prepared and should work with counsel to ensure the best success for the H-1B visa. Proactive businesses will also have begun collecting the supporting information and documentation to ensure a smooth filing. Immigration counsel will walk you through what is needed. 

H-1B Visas

Only 65,000 H-1B visas are made available each year with an additional 20,000 open to individuals possessing a U.S. master’s degree or higher. The imposed quota is called the H-1B Cap. To highlight how in-demand these visas are, USCIS received about 275,000 registrations last year. Roughly 46% of all registrations were for prospective petitioners with U.S. advanced degrees.

Goffwilson Immigration Law 

GoffWilson is a valuable partner in the H-1B process, ensuring the smooth navigation of everything from registration to filing a full petition. We can also ensure that potential beneficiaries are worthy of an H-1B visa, saving businesses time and money in the long run. GoffWilson’s complete H-1B petition packages include the required USCIS forms and filing fees, a Labor Condition Application (LCA), information surrounding the employer and the offered position, and documentation regarding the employee.  
Do you have questions about the H-1B Visa and the application process surrounding it? Our H-1B team has assisted thousands of employers and employees with H-1B applications and we are waiting to help you. Contact GoffWilson today and set yourself up for success this H-1B season.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have, once again, extended the I-9 flexibility that was set to expire December 31, 2020 for 30 more days. Following this extension, increased I-9 flexibility for remote workplaces will run through January 31, 2021.  

History of Increased I-9 Flexibility 

The DHS and ICE instituted increased I-9 flexibility on March 19, 2020, in response to the precautions employers and employees were taking because of COVID-19. This is the seventh time since the policy’s establishment that it has been extended—a process we have detailed extensively on our blawg: 

What is increased I-9 Flexibility?

Increased I-9 flexibility allows employers to verify an employee’s identity and authorization documents remotely using fax, email, or a video link. Employers have three business days to physically inspect the documents when “normal” operations resume.  

Who Qualifies?

It’s important to know that the increased flexibility only applies to employers and workplaces operating 100% remotely. There are relatively few exceptions for businesses with employees present at workplaces; however, the DHS will evaluate situations where employers or employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols on a case-by-case basis. 

Looking Ahead 

It’s hard to predict the future of I-9 flexibility for remote employers, especially when you take into account that it has already been extended numerous times and COVID-19 cases are surging in the U.S., but it is reasonable to assume that the flexibility will be extended once again before January 31, 2021. The DHS and ICE advise employers to monitor their websites for the latest news about I-9 flexibility—particularly when it will be terminated.


With a gray area around who qualifies, no clear end date, and a short window to bring documentation up to date when “normal” operations resume, it behooves employers to have a plan in place for I-9 compliance. GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and has assisted businesses of all sizes and types to develop strategies to remain I-9 compliant. If you have a question about what the latest extension means for your company, or any other I-9 or immigration questions, contact GoffWilson today! Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion.
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