The United States on Friday said it plans to introduce a new merit-based rule under which companies employing foreign workers on H-1B visas will have to register their petitions in advance, PTI reported. The aim of the rules proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration is to provide visas to the most skilled and highest-paid foreign workers.

The H-1B visa allows US companies to employ skilled workers from abroad and has an annual 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.

More than three lakh Indians are believed to be on this work permit in the US.

Companies employing workers on these visas would be required to electronically register with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services during a designated registration period, according to the proposed rules. The proposed rule would increase by 16%, or by 5,340, the number of H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from an American institution of higher education, said a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.

Under the proposed rules, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services would also reverse the order allowing it to select H-1B petitions under the cap and the advanced degree exemption.

“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,” it said. “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.”

Doug Rand, who worked on immigration in the Obama White House, told the Hindustan Times that the administration’s stated goal for the H-1B system is to shift more of these visas to the “most-skilled or highest-paid foreign workers”. “This new proposal is the beginning of an H-1B overhaul through DHS [Department of Homeland Security] regulations, however, which would be much more difficult for a future administration to reverse,” he said.

Shifting to an electronic registration will also help reduce the overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient H-1B cap petition process, said the Citizenship and Immigration Services.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the public can submit comments on the proposed rules from December 3 to January 2.