New H-1B Rule Effective April 1: Here’s What You Should Know

The Shapiro Law Group

The new H-1B visa rule became effective on April 1 and it contains several changes that businesses and applicants need to understand. The rule was issued by the US Customs and Immigration Service and made changes to the H-1B visa cap and the application process. The H-1B visa program allows highly skilled foreign workers to live and work in the U.S. However, the new rule might make it harder for applicants to gain visas. The changes to the cap impact applications this year. Beginning next fiscal year, businesses will also need to go through an electronic pre-registration process before they can submit applications to the H-1B visa lottery.

Preference for Applicants with Advanced Degrees

One of the changes is a preference for applicants who have Master’s degrees. They will be allowed to apply first for a visa from a pool of 65,000 available. After the visas from that lottery have been awarded, applicants with Master’s degrees who were not initially selected will be given a second chance at one of 20,000 additional visas. This change means people who have advanced degrees may have a stronger chance of being chosen than people who have Bachelor’s degrees.

Electronic Pre-registration Process

Beginning in the next fiscal year, businesses will be required to submit forms electronically in a pre-registration process before they can apply for H-1B visas for their workers. Because the electronic process is simple, there are concerns that it could lessen the chances of selection for people who are seeking H-1B visas. Employers may submit forms for multiple workers and make the pool larger. From this pool, candidates for H-1B visas will be selected by the USCIS. The employers will then need to file their visa petitions for each foreign worker and submit them for consideration in the H-1B visa lottery.

Increased Scrutiny

These changes should be viewed against the backdrop of the administration’s tightening of work-based visas. Applicants and businesses should expect greater scrutiny. The USCIS has increased the number of petitions in which it requests additional evidence. Gathering and submitting the evidence can be time-consuming. In some cases, companies may have to spend time and money on litigation costs when H-1B petitions are denied.

The USCIS may be looking for reasons to deny petitions. Foreign workers and businesses need to make certain that their petitions are completed correctly and contain supportive evidence.