If you are an Indian proofeesional trying to look work in the USA, then there’s some bad news for you. The Department of Homeland Security is readying a proposal that will make getting an H-1B tougher . The concerned department is looking to impose tighter restrictions on the H-B petitioners’ selection process.
According to the latest notification on International immigration firm Fragomen’s official website, DHS might revive a 2011 proposal that would require H-1B petitioners to preregister for the H-1B cap lottery and to submit cap petitions only after they have won cap numbers.
“The DHS also plans to propose a priority system for allocation of H-1B cap numbers which would give priority to the most highly-paid and highly skilled, consistent with President Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order,” it said in its update.
DHS also might consider changes to H-1B wages.
Scott J Fitzgerald, partner in Fragomen Worldwide, said changes to the H-1B cap lottery system are not scheduled to be announced till February 2018. However, if such changes are announced under the standard process that allows for ‘Notice and Comment’, which typically takes several months, then the changes won’t go into effect in time to cover the upcoming cap, under which filing begins in April 2018, he said.
Meanwhile, The Trump administration is considering revoking an Obama-era rule that extends work authorisation to the spouses of H-1B visa holders, a move that could affect thousands of Indian workers and their families.
Since 2015, the spouses of H-1B, or high-skilled, visa holders waiting for green cards have been eligible to work in the US on H-4 dependent visas, under a rule introduced by the previous Obama administration.
In 2016, more than 41,000 of H-4 visa holders were issued work authorisation. This year till June more than 36,000 H-4 visa holders were issued work authorisation.
The H-1B programme attracts foreign specialised workers to come to the United States for employment, many of them from India and China.
“DHS is proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation,” said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a latest regulation.
According to the notice, the changes is being made in light of President Trump’s ‘Buy American and Hire American’ order issued earlier this year.
According to CNN, while changing the rule wouldn’t prevent spouses of H-1B holders from pursuing other avenues for work authorisation, it could deter a number of high- skilled immigrants from staying in the US if their spouses can’t easily find work.
The Wall Street Journal said such a proposal dismayed supporters of the programme.
“This announcement places into jeopardy thousands of hardworking, contributing individuals who have started their own businesses and often have US citizen children who will needlessly be forced to revert to a status of inactivity,” Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney who worked for the Obama administration, told the daily.
As well as dropping the rule allowing spouses to work, the Department of Homeland Security statement mentioned plans for other changes to the H-1B visa program.
They include revising the definition of what occupations are eligible for the program “to increase focus on truly obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals”, CNN said.
That would be a standard potentially far above what is currently understood under the law.
The Obama-era rule allowing spouses to work already faces a legal challenge. A group called Save Jobs USA filed a lawsuit in April 2015 arguing that it threatens American jobs.
The Trump administration’s plans to overhaul the H-1B program has caused particular alarm in India, which accounts for 70 per cent of all H-1B workers.
The H-1B is a common visa route for highly skilled foreigners to find work at companies in the U.S. It’s valid for three years, and can be renewed for another three years.
It’s a program that’s particularly popular in the tech community, with many engineers vying for one of the programme’s 85,000 visas each year.
(Inputs from Agencies)