WASHINGTON: In a worrying news for Indians, the Donald Trump government has proposed major changes in the H-1B application process, including a new rule requiring companies to electronically register their petitions in advance. The move is aimed at awarding the popular American work visa to the most skilled and highest paid foreign workers. The famous, and in-demand H-1B visa is popular among Indians, who typically take up at least 60 per cent of it. It is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
Under the newly proposed merit-based rule, companies employing foreign workers on the visa would first have to electronically register with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a designated registration period. The H-1B 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 would also reverse the order by which it selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the proposed rule will introduce a more meritorious selection of beneficiaries. It said public comments on the proposed rule may be submitted starting December 3. “Currently, in years when the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption are both reached within the first five days that H-1B cap petitions may be filed, the advanced degree exemption is selected prior to the H-1B cap. The proposed rule would reverse the selection order and count all registrations or petitions towards the number projected as needed to reach the H-1B cap first,” the DHS said.
Once a sufficient number of registrations or petitions have been selected for the cap, the USCIS would select registrations or petitions towards the advanced degree exemption. It said, “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 H-1B cap and that H-1B visas would be awarded to the most-skilled and highest-paid beneficiaries.”
President Donald Trump had instructed the DHS last year, to propose new rules and issue new guidance to supersede or revise previous rules to protect the interests of US workers. He had directed it and other agencies to “suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”