US proposes changes to H1B visas; to be given to highest paid foreign workers
Washington: The Trump Administration on Friday proposed major changes to the H-1B application process, including a new rule requiring companies to electronically register their petitions in advance, aimed at awarding this popular American work visa to the most skilled and highest paid foreign workers.
The H1B visa, popular among Indian IT companies and professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
Under the new proposed merit-based rule, a notice for which was issued on Friday, companies employing foreign workers on the H-1B visa - under the Congressional mandated annual caps - would first have to electronically register with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period.
The H1-B visa has 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.
Under the new rule, the USCIS would also reverse the order by which it selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption.
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 introduce a more meritorious selection of beneficiaries, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.
The DHS said public comments on the proposed rule may be submitted starting December 3, when the proposed rule publishes in the Federal Register, and must be received on or before January 2.
"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.
Once a sufficient number of registrations or petitions have been selected for the H-1B cap, the USCIS would then select registrations or petitions towards the advanced degree exemption.
"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 process would result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a US institution of higher education, the DHS said. Pti