U.S. Administration Mulls New Changes For Stricter H-1B Visa Rules
The Department of Homeland Security may bring back the 2011 rule requiring pre-registration of employers planning to hire workers under the H-1B visa program.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking to make obtaining an H-1B visa tougher. The DHS may bring back the 2011 rule of pre-registration for employers planning to hire foreigners under the H-1B visa program that may come into effect from February next year, according to media reports.
DHS announced its plans in an update to its semi-annual regulatory agenda, according to the international immigration firm, Fragomen. The Trump administration is also proposing to revise the definition of H-1B specialty occupation to “increase focus on obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals.”
If the new regulations are finalized, it would affect the H-1B program, F-1 practical training, and H-4 employment authorization. According to the new rules, if they come into effect in February, the firms in the United States will first be required to electronically register for visas. These visas are subject to an annual cap of 85,000 to 65,000 for foreigners coming in from abroad and 20,000 for foreigners with advanced degrees from U.S. colleges and universities.
The H-1B program run by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will then randomly select the beneficiary employers from those who have registered. The selection may be done through an electronic lottery.
A priority system for allocation of H-1B cap numbers may be proposed by the DHS. This would give priority to the most highly paid and highly skilled persons, consistent with U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ policy.
Also, the DHS plans to propose new definitions of employment and the employer-employee relationship in the H-1B context, seeking to protect U.S. workers and their wages. The DHS is expected to alter H-1B wage requirements. These announcements are anticipated to be made in October 2018.
The operational details would not be available until the rule is published in the federal register, expected in February.
The changes to the H-1B cap lottery system are not scheduled to be announced until February 2018, Scott J Fitzgerald, partner in Fragomen Worldwide, said, the Times of India reported. “If such changes are announced under the standard process that allows for ‘Notice and Comment’, which typically takes several months, then the changes won’t go into effect in time to cover the upcoming cap, under which filing begins in April 2018,” said Fitzgerald.
The DHS announced on Dec. 15 that spouses of H-1B, high-skilled visa holders may not be allowed to work in the United States as the Trump administration plans on proposing to revoke the permits of work of H-4 visa holders.
It was announced in October that if children of H-1B holders turn 21 before a parent is granted a green card, they lose their right to reside in the United States.