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Global Business Team

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Proposed rule would make changes to the H-1B process

One of the major work visa programs here in the U.S. is the H-1B program. Under this program, employers can seek out temporary work visas for specialty workers from other countries that they wish to have work in their U.S. operations. Recently, the federal government issued a proposed rule that would make some changes to the application process for this program.

For one, it would add an online registration requirement for companies planning to apply for an H-1B visa for a foreign worker. The idea behind this requirement is that companies would then only have to submit the full paperwork for applying for an H-1B visa if they are actually selected to apply.

This change is aimed at streamlining the process and making the application process easier for companies and the government.

The rule would also change the order in which such visas are dealt out.

The yearly cap for H-1B visas is 65,000, plus another 20,000 that are just for foreign workers who have an advanced degree from the United States. Lately, it has been typical for applications for H1-B visas to far exceed these caps.

Currently, the lottery process for selecting which H-1B petitions get to proceed goes as follows:

  • First, a lottery is held for the 20,000 advanced degree slots
  • This is then followed by the lottery for the 65,000 general slots.

The new rule would reverse this, having the general lottery go first and then the advanced degree lottery go second. This change would increase the likelihood of workers with U.S. advanced degrees being selected for visas.

One wonders if this proposed rule will ultimately be finalized and, if it is, how the implementation of the rule will go.

When rule changes are made to employment immigration programs, employers seeking to bring workers into the U.S. to help with their business goals may have many concerns about what the changes (and any issues related to the implementation of such changes) would mean for their opportunities and options relates to achieving their employment immigration goals. Immigration lawyers can provide guidance when it comes to such concerns.