US proposes changes to H1B visas, to prefer most skilled, highest paid workers
The Trump Administration on Friday released a proposal to rework on H-1B visa application process that would relatively favour advanced US degree holders and skilled foreign workers.
Under a new proposed rule released November 30, employers seeking to register H-1B visas for foreign workers would have to preregister for them, meaning companies would not require to file a full petition with supporting documentation for the visa lottery.
“Under a new proposed merit-based rule, companies employing foreign workers on the H-1B visa under the Congressional mandated annual caps—would have to electronically register with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period,” the released said in a statement.
“The H1-B visa has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year as mandated by the Congress. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap,” it said.
The new proposal, if things go down well by the next visa lottery in April, is expected to result in more advanced-degree holders obtaining H-1B visas than those with bachelor’s holders. Moreover, workers with advanced-degree holders from outside the US institution would be disadvantaged under the new process to obtain H-1B skilled guest worker visas.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, a 30-day public comments period on the proposed rule can be submitted from December 3 to January 2.
This is likely to increase the number of foreign workers with a master’s or higher degree from a US institution of higher education to be selected for an H-1B cap number. As such the proposed rule will introducing a more meritorious selection of beneficiaries, DHS said in a statement.
“Currently, in years when the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption are both reached within the first five days that H-1B cap petitions may be filed, the advanced degree exemption is selected prior to the H-1B cap.
“The proposed rule would reverse the selection order and count all registrations or petitions towards the number projected as needed to reach the H-1B cap first,” the DHS said.
This proposed change would increase the chances that beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a US institution of higher education would be selected under the H-1B cap and that H-1B visas would be awarded to the most-skilled and highest-paid beneficiaries, it said.
The USCIS said it expects that shifting to electronic registration would reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for the agency.
This would help reduce wait times for cap selection notifications. The proposed rule also limits the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions to the beneficiary named on the original selected registration, which would protect the integrity of this registration system, USCIS said.
(With PTI inputs)