H-1B visa is a popular work visa type that many immigrants take advantage of to ultimately seek permanent residence in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced an interim final rule (IFR) that strengthens the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program to protect U.S. workers, restores integrity to the H-1B program, and better guarantees that H-1B visa petitions are approved only for qualified beneficiaries and petitioners. Immigrants interested in possibly immigrating through the H-1B – PERM route should be on the lookout for these proposed changes that may possibly affect their eligibility to obtain a new H-1B visa or to renew one.
Among a number of changes, DHS intends to scrutinize the “specialty occupation” requirement by ensuring that the applicant for an H-1B visa petition has the requisite specialty degree in the field they intend to work in. It appears that it would be more difficult to use a general bachelor degree for an occupation that in DHS’s view requires a specialty degree.
Another change removes the current regulatory criteria that “states that a bachelor’s degree be “normally” required, or “common to the industry,” or that the knowledge required for the position is “usually associated” with at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. ” This change in effect makes all H-1B visa petitions to require at least a bachelor’s degree.
Additionally, the definition of a “work site” will be the same as a “third party worksite” meaning that the statute will not differentiate between the two – allowing for more DHS immigration enforcement tools – such as site visits.
Validity Period Changes:
DHS further plans to change the maximum validity period for third party placements using H-1B Visas. DHS will set a 1-year maximum validity period for all H-1B visa petitions in which the beneficiary will be working at a third-party worksite. Immigrants wanting to maximize their amount of stay in the US, should therefore avoid Staffing Type of employment where they are recruited by one firm and placed to work in another.
These rules are Proposed Rules and still not in effect. They may change at any time or possibly not go into effect after the current comment period. For most up-to-date rules and requirements, always consult with a qualified Portland Immigration Lawyer.
This post is not exhaustive of the entire list of proposed changes to the H-1B program, just a quick overview. We will post updates as they take place.