Visa Crunch

United States: The Salary Biased H1-B Rule Repealed, International Students To Gain

The H1-B visa rule which was in effect since the Trump Administration that gave visa preferences to the candidates earning higher salaries will be repealed by President Joe Biden.

The H-1B visa is a highly sought-after employment visa for several international graduates in the United States. It enables employers or businesses in the United States to recruit international graduates with a certain speciality (or its equivalent) to work in the country. The H-1B visa holder can only operate for the sponsoring firm and allows international graduates to work in the United States for a minimum of three years.

The Trump administration announced a “final” policy on Jan. 8, 2021, to terminate the H-1B visa lottery and substitute it with a system that selects H-1B petitions by highest to lowest wage. The lottery is used by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when companies file a greater number of H-1B visa applications than the annual cap of 85,000. (65,000 plus a 20,000-exemption for advance degree holders from US universities).

In 2021, USCIS received over 3,00,000 H-1B registrations for the fiscal year 2022.

Previously, the Biden administration defended the immigration regulation until recently, when they decided to oppose it. H-1B petitions are critical because they are often the only realistic method for overseas students to work long-term in the United States. The former H-1B rule would be a nightmare for overseas students.

According to Forbes, companies will naturally offer individuals with less experience in the US labour market lower wages (Level 1 under the Department of Labor wage level system) than more trained personnel.

Implementing the rule would result in the US establishing a system that favours senior foreign nationals over young, promising talent, including recent US university graduates. The failure to obtain an H-1B visa has contributed to an increase in Indian students at Canadian universities from 76,075 to more than 172,000 between 2016 and 2018.

Indian graduate students in engineering and computer science have dropped by 25% at US universities.

The finding demonstrates that the United States is losing talent because it is much easier to work and gain permanent residence in other countries after graduation — and the Trump administration’s H-1B regulation would exacerbate the problem.

There are also suggestions that all green cards be used each year, that job portability be allowed for those in employment-based visa backlogs, and that the list of academic fields eligible for additional Optional Practical Training for STEM graduates be expanded. These recommendations also propose regulatory changes to allow for automatic 180-day extensions while work visas are being processed.

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