The United States administration on Wednesday announced that it will switch to a new system to process H-1B visa applications from April 1. The new system will give priority to foreign workers with advanced degrees from a university or college in the US over those hired abroad, reported Hindustan Times on Wednesday. More than three lakh Indians are believed to be on this work permit.
“These simple and smart changes are a positive benefit for employers, the foreign workers they seek to employ, and the agency’s adjudicators, helping the H-1B visa program work better,” said US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L Francis Cissna in a statement. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services runs the H-1B programme.
The H-1B visa allows US companies to employ skilled workers from abroad. In the first two years of Trump’s presidency, the administration had made it difficult to issue new H1-B visas or grant extensions to those already holding the visas.
The new system is estimated to increase the number of beneficiaries in the lottery who hold advanced degrees by 16% or 5,340 workers each year, the citizenship and immigration services said. This rule change is in line with President Donald Trump’s assertions on merit-based migration.
Each year, 85,000 H-1B visas are granted to for-profit companies in a lottery system, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. An initial lottery granted 20,000 visas to those holding advanced degrees granted by US institutions, Master’s degrees or doctorates, and then a general lottery granted 65,000 visas to all qualified applicants.
Under the new system, the order of these lotteries have been switched to favour foreign nationals holding advanced degrees.
More than 70% of the total H-1B visas go to Indians hired by US companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, and US arms of Indian outsourcing giants such as Infosys, TCS and Wipro, according to Hindustan Times. There is also a massive gender disparity in those holding visas, with only one in every four visa holders being female, a US Citizenship and Immigration Services report said.
The new system will also introduce electronic registration of petitions. However, this facility will be suspended for the upcoming H-1B 2020 season that is expected to begin on April 1.
Trump had earlier this month tweeted that “changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship”. “We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the US,” he had said.