The guidance says that computer programmers can no longer be presumed to be eligible for H-1B visas.
It will cover applications for H-1B visas that opened on Monday for the fiscal year 2018. The US issues about 85,000 H-1B visas every year.
After the election of Donald Trump as US president, there has been a great deal of speculation about changes to the H-1B visa regime.
The new guidance will reserve H-1B visas for very high-skilled and higher-paid professionals, with low- and mid-level jobs presumably to go to American workers instead.
It means that firms which wish to obtain H-1B visas for programming positions will need to supply additional proof about the complexity of the task for which they need the H-1B workers.
In mid-March, there were hopes that the H-1B regime would not be touched, after White House press secretary Sean Spicer made only a general comment about the system when asked about possible changes.
“… obviously, whether it's H-1B visas or the other one — spousal visas — other areas of student visas, I think there is a natural desire to have a full look at – a comprehensive look at that,” Spicer said.
Among the groups most fearful of H-1B visa changes have been Indian outsourcing companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro and Satyam which are estimated to take up to 85% of the visas issued for IT-related jobs.