The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has introduced a proposal through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to update the H-1B specialty occupation worker program. This initiative is designed to simplify eligibility criteria, enhance the program’s efficiency, offer increased benefits and flexibility for employers and employees, and reinforce the program’s integrity.

The H-1B program assists US businesses in hiring necessary personnel to remain globally competitive. It is a highly desired visa option, especially among Indians. This visa allows US companies to employ foreign professionals in specialized roles that demand specific expertise and a bachelor’s or higher degree in the related field.

The suggested modifications to the H-1B program include:

  • Clarifying eligibility: The qualifications for specialty roles will be updated to minimize misunderstandings and to specify that a job may accept various degrees, given they are directly related to the job responsibilities.
  • Enhancing efficiency: If no core facts have altered since a prior assessment, adjudicators would typically respect that previous decision in new filings.
  • Expanding benefits and adaptability: Some H-1B cap exemptions will be broadened for specific nonprofit or governmental research bodies and for those not directly hired by a qualifying institution. The DHS will also provide more options for F-1 visa students transitioning to H-1B status and set new criteria for emerging entrepreneurs.
  • Bolstering integrity: To combat misuse and deception, entities cannot submit multiple registrations for the same individual. The rule would also empower USCIS to perform site inspections, and refusal to cooperate might lead to petition denial or revocation.

Proposed Changes:

The registration process for the H-1B will be altered to mitigate potential fraud. Currently, registering an individual multiple times increases their lottery selection odds. The new system will allow each individual to be registered once, no matter the number of submissions. This change aims to give genuine registrations a better chance of selection by eliminating the benefit of multiple submissions for one individual. Moreover, this will offer beneficiaries more options among genuine job proposals since any registrant can file an H-1B petition for a selected beneficiary.

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