Trump Administration Proposes to Give H-1B Visas on Merit Basis

DHS has said that the order of selecting H-1B petitions will be reversed to make the selection based on merit.


The Trump administration has proposed some changes to the H-1B visa program, including a new rule which insists that H-1B visas should be given based on merit so that skilled foreigners get the opportunity to work in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a notice on Nov.30 that companies will be required to electronically register their petitions related to hiring workers on H-1B visa with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated period.

It further said that the order of selecting H-1B petitions will be reversed to make selections based on merit.

Currently, the advanced degree exemption is selected prior to the H-1B cap. However, the proposed rule asks to count all registrations for H-1B cap first and then to select petitions toward advanced degree exemption. This will increase the chances for most-skilled and highest-paid beneficiaries in getting H-1B visas.

Currently, the H-1B visa program has a limit cap of 65,000 visas per fiscal year, which has been mandated by the U.S. Congress. First 20,000 petitioners with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempted from the cap, reported PTI.

“This proposed change would increase the chances that beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. 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,” said DHS in a statement.

The statement also said that USCIS expects that shifting to electronic registration would reduce overall costs for petitioners and will make H-1B cap petition process more efficient.

H-1B visa is most sought after visa among Indian IT professionals. With this non-immigrant visa, US-based companies hire people with technological expertise from India as well as China. Changes in H-1B visa policies are being seen in the backdrop of Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order.

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