H-1B visa : Major Rule Changes to be Issued

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made big move to impose major changes to H1-B visa, used by thousands of companies to hire highly skilled foreign workers.

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These are the highlights of the new changes:

  • Revising the definition and standards for a “specialty occupation” to better align with the statutory definition of the term.
  • Increase the wage levels to a higher limit for filing an H1-B visa.
  • Clarifying how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will determine whether there is an “employer-employee relationship” between the petitioner and the beneficiary.
  • Requiring corroborating evidence of work in a specialty occupation.
  • Limiting the validity period for third-party placement petitions to a maximum of 1 year.
  • Providing a written explanation when the petition is approved with an earlier validity period end date than requested.
  • Codifying USCIS’ H-1B site visit authority, including the potential consequences of refusing a site visit.

As per DHS, the primary purpose of these changes is to better ensure that each H-1B worker will be working for a qualified employer in a job that meets the statutory definition of a “specialty occupation.”

The rules are expected to come to effect from Thursday 8th of October 2020 with possibilities of it getting challenged in court.

DHS calculates the total annual cost of the rule to be $55,897,905 in FY2021, $420,703,464 in FY2022, $546,286,944 in each of FY2023 to FY2027, and $393,083,504 in each of FY2028 to FY2030 to the petitioners.

An interesting finding by DHS in the draft rule is that H-1B master’s degree holders make,
based on a simple average, $86,927, whereas bachelor’s degree holders make on average
$88,565.163. Given that differences in skills and experience often explain differences in wages,
this gap in average earnings and age suggests that, while possessing a more advanced degree,
master’s degree holders in the H-1B program tend to be less skilled and experienced—and are
therefore more likely to enter the program as entry-level workers—than are bachelor’s degree

The new rules are expected to affect about one-third of H1B workers.

Read unpublished version of the Department of Labor rule

Read unpublished version of the DHS rule

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  1. Looks like H1-B holders working in product companies getting paid 100K+ salary wont be affected. Those who work for consulting companies needs to be cautious. Also need to see how this affects people who are working in IT industry without a degree in computers.