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H1B visas only for most skilled, highest paid foreign workers

H1B visas only for most skilled, highest paid foreign workers
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The Trump Administration on Friday proposed major changes to the H1B application process, including a new rule requiring companies to electronically...

Washington: The Trump Administration on Friday proposed major changes to the H1B application process, including a new rule requiring companies to electronically register their petitions in advance, aimed at awarding the 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.

Technology companies depend on H1B visas to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries such as India and China. Under the new proposed merit-based rule, a notice for which was issued on Friday, companies employing foreign workers on the H1B 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 H1B visa has a 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 will reverse the order by which it selects H1B petitions under the H1B 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 H1B cap number.

The proposed rule will introduce a more meritorious selection of beneficiaries, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement. Public comments will have to be submitted starting December 3, and must be received on or before January 2, it added. “The proposed rule will reverse the selection order and count all registrations or petitions towards the number projected as needed to reach the H1B cap first,” the DHS said.

Once a sufficient number of registrations or petitions was selected for the H1B cap, the USCIS would 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 H1B cap and that H1B visas would be awarded to the most-skilled and highest-paid beneficiaries,” it said.

The proposed process will result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a US institution of higher education, according to the DHS.

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