Monday, 03 December 2018 10:42

US introduces first change to H-1B visa rules

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US introduces first change to H-1B visa rules Pixabay

The first change of rules around the H-1B visa, which has been used by many Indian IT outsourcing outfits to take workers to the US, will be announced by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Homeland Security on Monday US time.

The new rule would give priority to those seeking workers with advanced degrees from US universities.

The manner of application has also changed, with companies required to register online rather than submit a full-fledged application for a new employee.

A total of 65,000 visas can be issued each year, plus 20,000 to workers with master's and doctoral qualifications. All applications will first be reviewed before actual petitions are sought.

"Changing the order in which USCIS selects beneficiaries under these separate allocations will likely increase the total number of petitions selected under the regular cap for H-1B beneficiaries who possess a master’s or higher degree from a US institution of higher education each fiscal year, particularly in years of high demand for new H-1B visas when USCIS is likely to receive a greater number of petitions for beneficiaries who qualify for the advanced degree exemption," according to the draft rule.

But no rules have yet been announced for other changes which have been rumoured to be in the wings for a long time. These include the stripping of work rights for spouses of H-1B visa holders.

There has also been no change in the minimum salary required to hire a worker on an H-1B visa.

Since Donald Trump was elected in 2016, the US has been clamping down on H-1B visas which are used. Many of those who enter the US on these visas are Indians who work in the technology industry.

In October 2017, the government issued new guidelines making it tougher for existing H-1B holders to renew their visas, specifying that they would have to go through the same process for renewal as they did to first obtain the visa.

The number of applicants for H-1B visas fell this year for the second time in five years. In April 2018, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services received 190,098 applications compared to 199,000 a year earlier. The figure was 236,000 in April 2016.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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