The Trump administration on Friday proposed major changes to the H-1B application process with the aim of awarding the visa to the most skilled and highest paid foreign workers.
Under a new proposed merit-based rule, a notice for which was issued on Friday, companies employing foreign workers on the H-1B visa under the Congressional mandated annual caps -- would have to electronically register with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services during a designated registration period.
The H1-B visa has an annual 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.
The USCIS would also reverse the order allowing it to select H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption.
This is likely to increase the number of foreign workers with a master's or higher degree from a US institution of higher education to be selected for an H-1B cap number. As such the proposed rule will introducing a more meritorious selection of beneficiaries, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
The DHS said public comments on the proposed rule can be submitted from December 3 to January 2.
"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 H-1B cap, the USCIS would then select registrations or petitions towards the advanced degree exemption.
"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," it said.
The proposed process would result in an estimated increase of up to 16 per cent (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a US institution of higher education, the DHS said. -- PTI