The Joe Biden administration in the United States has proposed changes in the H-1B visa program to streamline eligibility requirements and make it more efficient and flexible.
The changes have been proposed by the US Department of Homeland Security, which stated that the changes will also lead to a reduction in cases of misuse and fraud.
“The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would modernize the H-1B speciality occupation worker program by streamlining eligibility requirements, improving program efficiency, providing greater benefits and flexibilities for employers and workers, and strengthening integrity measures,” the department said in a statement.
The US Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N Mayorkas said that the priority of the Biden administration is to attract global talent and reduce undue burdens on employers.
“DHS continues to develop and implement regulations that increase efficiency and improve processes for employers and workers navigating the immigration system,” the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N Mayorkas said.
He added, “The Biden-Harris Administration’s priority is to attract global talent, reduce undue burdens on employers, and prevent fraud and abuse in the immigration system.”
According to the department, the proposed changes would streamline eligibility requirements. Under this, the criteria for speciality occupation positions would be revised to reduce confusion between the public and adjudicators and to clarify that a position may allow a range of degrees, although there must be a direct relationship between the required degree field(s) and the duties of the position.
The proposed rule also codifies that adjudicators generally should defer to a prior determination when no underlying facts have changed at the time of a new filing.
Aiming to provide more flexibility, the department has proposed certain exemptions to the H-1B cap to be expanded for certain non-profit entities or governmental research organizations as well as beneficiaries who are not directly employed by a qualifying organization.
DHS would also extend certain flexibilities for students on an F-1 visa when students are seeking to change their status to H-1B. Additionally, DHS would establish new H-1B eligibility requirements for rising entrepreneurs, the department stated.
According to the US department, misuse and fraud in the H-1B registration process would also be reduced by prohibiting related entities from submitting multiple registrations for the same beneficiary. The rule would also codify USCIS’ authority to conduct site visits and clarify that refusal to comply with site visits may result in denial or revocation of the petition.
Notably, H-1B is a non-immigrant visa, which is highly sought after including in India. This allows US companies to employ foreign workers in occupations that require some technical expertise.
“The H-1B non-immigrant visa program allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, defined by statute as occupations that require highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty, or its equivalent,” the DHS stated.
The issue of H-1B visa made headlines recently after Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy vowed to end the H-1B visa program if elected to power.
Terming the H-1B visa as “indentured servitude”, Ramaswamy called it to replace the “lottery system” for an “actual meritocratic admission”
Notably, the issue of H-1B visa also came into discussion during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the United States in June this year.
Following the meeting between PM Modi and President Biden, the US authorities announced that they will introduce ‘in-country’ renewable H-1B visas to smoothen the process of H-1B visa renewal for several Indians.
“It has now been decided that the H-1B visa renewal can be done in the US itself,” PM Modi said during his address to the Indian diaspora.