advanced degree

With H-1B Immigration Restrictions, Time to Get That Advanced Degree

A proposal by the current U.S. administration to make changes to the current H-1B visa application process has come into light recently, renewing debate over whether or not it’s a fair move. This proposal is a result of U.S. government’s direction that urges companies and agencies to adopt a “Buy American, Hire American” strategy.

With the new proposed changes, the process will be changed in an effort to introduce a selection based on merit, according to USCIS. All registrations, including those from people eligible for the advanced degree exemption, will be included in the application pool for the regular cap of 65,000. Following that, USCIS will select from the remaining applicants to fill the degree cap.

What this means is that the number of H-1B holders who have advanced degrees from US universities will have a higher chance of obtaining the visa, potentially increasing the number of H-1B holders with these degrees to 16 percent, ensuring that “more of the best and brightest workers from around the world come to America.”

However, you may still be denied entry into the master’s quota if your petition is not filed properly. This can be the result of insufficient evidence – this can result in either USCIS rejection or a Request for Evidence (RFE). This will come in the form of an I-797 form or receipt as well as a comprehensive list of evidence required to verify your institution and degree. It is important that all of the information regarding your institution matches.

Another big change being proposed is to move the registration process online. Currently, US employers file a full H-1B petition for their applicants before lottery selections, but with the new ruling, employers must first register their applications online with USCIS during a designated registration period. Following this, if their applicants are selected for the visa lottery, they will need to prepare and submit the full application.

It is not clear if the new online system will be implemented before the next round of H-1B visa applications, set to be in April next year.

Meanwhile, this move has sent shock waves to regions and cities that regularly hire tech-savvy, highly skilled foreigners such as Silicon Valley and the Bay Area in general. Particularly in scrutiny was the Immigration Act of 1990 which provides H-1B visas to an average of 350,000 qualified, educated workers from other countries every single year. There was concern that the new policy would whittle down this number.

Global mobility managers and their executives seeking foreign talent and bringing them in to work in the U.S. can not be complacent. Neither should they succumb to paranoia or unfounded anxiety. There is ground on which they can maneuver and create a strong position for themselves until the situation stabilizes or gets a clearer direction.

For now, these are two simple but effective strategies that can keep your assignees, present and future, under the radar while the U.S. immigration policies are going through a controversial overhaul. Play it cool, obey the law, and you and your colleagues can emerge from it unscathed.