New H-1B rules to go into effect on April 1, visas for advanced degree holders expected to jump 16%


  • The US immigration office has finalised new rules governing H-1B work visas and quotas.
  • Starting April 1, it will also reverse the order in which it selects applications.
  • Applicants will first have to electronically register with the immigration office in a defined registration period.
The US immigration office has finalised new rules governing H-1B work visas and quotas, favouring applications from holders of advanced degrees from US institutions.

According to an official statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), all H-1B applications that are subject to cap will now have an “electronic registration” requirement.

Starting April 1, it will also reverse the order in which it selects applications. Currently, it processes applications from a regular pool of candidates with a cap of 65,000 first, and has a separate quota for holders of advanced degrees -- a US master’s or higher -- of 20,000, that is used once the regular cap applications are used. Every year, the 65,000 cap is reached quickly, kicking in a lottery system.

Now, advanced degree applicants will be clubbed with the regular applications, and the separate quota of 20,000 will only be tapped if there are unselected advanced degree holders from the common pool.

According to the statement, the changes will result in an estimated increase of up to 16%, or 5,340 workers, in the number of visas for candidates with advanced degrees from a US institution.

The move is also aimed at making the process more efficient and will give US companies hiring H-1B holders with a US master’s or higher degree “a greater chance of selection in the H-1B lottery” in years of excess demand for new H-1B visas.

Under the new rules, applicants will first have to electronically register with the immigration office in a defined registration period, and only those who are selected will be eligible to file an H-1B application.

US immigration office will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for FY 2020 on April 1, 2019.

Last year, US President Donald Trump’s ‘ Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, mandated revised rules for foreign workers.

Indian ratings agency ICRA has said previously that the move will result in a 10% drop in H-1B visas for regular applicants - those without a master’s degree or higher from a US or higher.
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