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Major Amendments Proposed for Regulations Governing H-1B Visas

Amidst all the bad news related to U.S. immigration policy under the administration of President Donald Trump, a glimmer of hope is emerging regarding the H-1B visa program, which benefits skilled foreign workers and American employers. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced its intention to overhaul the H-1B visa program through a series of significant amendments that will introduce a streamlined registration process instead of forcing employers to submit petitions. 

The proposed amendments, which were published in the Federal Register in early December, will be open to public comments until January 2nd, 2019. The experienced immigration attorneys from KS Visa Law, a premier provider of immigration services in San Diego, offer these highlights from the proposal.

Free Online Registration for Visa Applicants

The most significant proposed amendment is the introduction of an online registration system that would replace the current petition packet. Considering the current petition process can cost employers more than $2,000, free registration of candidates would certainly be welcomed. There will be no limitations on the number of registrations submitted during the period running from March until April 1st.

Registration Selections

H-1B visa caps will remain unchanged at 65,000 regular applications, with the potential of expanding the cap by 20,000 in the case of applicants who graduated with advanced degrees from American universities. The way DHS is proposing to manage the selection process involves looking at all registrations as they stack up against the cap. Let’s say there are only 64,000 registrations. In this case, all employers will be notified they will be allowed to submit applications. If the number of registrations exceeds the annual cap, they will be randomly selected. DHS officials will be able to sort the registrations so graduates from American universities are given selection preference, but this wouldn’t necessarily count against the expansion of the 20,000-application cap.

Influence of Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” Vision

The Buy American and Hire American Executive Order has some impact on the proposed H-1B amendments. By being able to sort the registrations so prospective applicants with advanced degrees are scrutinized first, the DHS expects a 16 percent increase in the hiring of these highly qualified foreign workers. Trump wants the best and brightest applicants taking advantage of the H-1B visa program, but this may not be in the best interests of American employers who don’t need to hire workers with advanced degrees. There’s also the matter of whether foreigners with master’s or doctorate degrees will accept salaries that are typically earned by applicants with four-year degrees.

While the prospect of an online registration system for H-1B applicants may seem advantageous to employers, some immigration law firms have criticized DHS for presenting these proposals right before the holidays and just a few months before the H-1B filing season begins. Should there be issues with the new registration system once it’s implemented, the DHS would have an option to reopen the period.

If you need to know more about H-1B visas, seek the advice of experienced immigration attorneys. San Diego residents should reach out to the trusted immigration lawyers at KS Visa Law. We can assist you with a wide variety of immigration-related issues, including family and employment immigration. Call 858-874-0711 today to schedule an appointment.

May 2024