Proposals for extensive modifications to the rules governing the H-1B visa have been made by US agencies in charge of immigration policies. The much-anticipated modernisation proposals were announced on Friday night.
The most significant modifications include measures to combat fraud in the selection process, redefine the definition of a specialty occupation for the eligibility of H-1B visas, and assist startup founders by allowing their company to sponsor their work visas.
The recommended rules will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, with a 60-day window available for public comments.
Immigration experts believe this proposal may be introduced before the next H-1B cap registration season that starts in the first quarter of 2024.
According to the most recent official data, cited by a national daily, there were 5.8 lakh H-1B visa holders in the US at the end of fiscal 2019, with a sizable portion of those holders coming from the Indian diaspora. For American employers, current H-1B visa holders, and those hoping to obtain this work visa, the proposals are, in essence, a mixed bag.
It is suggested that each beneficiary who has an E-registration submitted on his or her behalf by a sponsoring employer or employers be eligible for the selection process only once, regardless of the number of registrations submitted. This is to ensure manipulation in the lottery selection process.
A person’s chances of being chosen in a lottery-selection process increase with a high number of registrations in the prevalent system.
The daily added that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received nearly 7.6 lakh eligible E-registrations in April, which was 60% more than the same number the year before, raising suspicions about potential misuse. Exploitation or gaming happens when a group of sponsoring employers, acting as a conduit, register the same people more than once to boost their chances of being chosen in the lottery. Each registration is supported by a job offer.
Greg Siskind, co-founder of Siskind Susser, was quoted as saying, “The H-1B lottery has been a massive scam for the last few years. Unscrupulous employers have been working together along with middlemen to file multiple applications on behalf of the same individual. If an individual found ten employers to file for them, they improve their odds 1000%.”
A proposed modification to the definition of a US employer is another significant change. According to the US-based National Venture Capital Association, a lot of entrepreneurs visit the country on an H-1B visa and work for an employer for several years before being granted a green card, which allows them to launch their own business. This results in missed opportunities, especially considering the lengthy wait period for Indians.