- Sponsor companies must now register online before the lottery and submit documents only for lottery winners
- Order of Regular and Masters lottery to be reversed
- Earlier changes include reduced validity of the H1B visa and full discretion given to USCIS to deny petitions
For the past two years, the H1B visa program has been undergoing constant changes. Recently he USICS announced two more changes that will impact the applicants and the companies sponsoring these applicants. Read on to find out more about what’s changed in the past year.
The H1B visa is the most popular visa for foreigners wanting to migrate to the USA. This visa allows individuals to live and work in the USA and till now has been given out on the basis of a random lottery. In an effort to change the H1B visa allotment system from luck to merit, The United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) has been making several changes to the H1B program.
H1B Changes – Reversal of Regular and Master’s Lottery
The USCIS has announced that the order of conducting a lottery for the Regular and Master’s cap for the H1B visa will be reversed from the next year onwards. The regular lottery will now be conducted first so that applicants with a higher degree or a Master’s degree have a higher chance of getting a visa.
This could result in a 16% increase of H1B visas granted to applicants with a Master’s degree or postgraduate degree.
Each year 85,000 visas are granted under the H1B program. Of this, 65,000 visas are granted as part of the regular or general lottery and an additional 20,000 visas are reserved for applicants with a Master’s degree. Currently, the lottery for the Master’s cap is conducted before the regular lottery. Applicants who do not get a visa in this lottery are then allowed to participate in the regular lottery.
The change in order is good news for applicants with a Master’s degree as it increases their chances of getting a visa. On the other hand, this reversal of order will make it more difficult for applicants with a Bachelor’s degree to get visas.
This move could also hurt doctors who are trained in the USA. This is because the degree in graduate medical education in the USA does not result in the equivalent of a Master’s degree or PhD. In 2017-18 16,475 international students were enrolled in graduate education in the health sphere.
Indians account for a large percentage of these students. Indian doctors are also a large part of the expatriate doctor community in the USA. Nearly 60% of the Indian doctors employed overseas are employed in the USA.
H1B Changes – Electronic Registration
An H1B visa application must be sponsored by a US employer. Now, instead of having to file copies of the documents that need to accompany the visa application, US sponsor companies must now electronically register with the USCIS.
The full applications and supporting evidence will then have to be filed only if the applicant is selected in the lottery. This will help companies save costs that can be around approximately $76 million.
This move comes after the USCIS introduced new provisions for H1B sponsors earlier this year. US Sponsors must all disclose the total number of foreign workers employed by them in the LCA when sponsoring a new visa applicant. The updated form includes details such as:
- All the positions at which foreigners on H1B visas are currently employed. This includes short-term
- Approximate number of foreign workers on the H1B visa at each place
- Details of all secondary entities using workers on H1B visas
- Details of all entities employing foreign workers on H1B visas solely on the basis of their educational qualifications.
H1B Changes – USCIS to have Full Discretions to Deny Requests H1B Visa Applications
USCIS now has full discretion to deny requests, applications and petitions without needing to issues a Notice Of Intent to Deny (NOID) or a Request For Evidence (RFE). This will give the applicant no chance to make any changes in his/her application or resubmit documents if any of the earlier documents were wrong. In the case of migrants already in the USA, a petition that is denied can lead to deportation proceedings.
H1B Changes – Visa Validity
In early 2018 the validity of the H1B visa has been shortened from the earlier 3 years. The visa may now be awarded for a shorter duration of time depending on the applicant’s dates of engagement, the location of work, and employer details. Corroborative evidence must be provided for all these details.
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