What changes are being made to H-1B Visas for 2021?

What is an H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa program allows  US-based companies to hire foreign workers for a temporary basis in select high-level positions. Most often these positions are in the fields of engineering, science, and IT.

For H-1B visas, there is a current annual cap of  65,000 approvals currently set by the US Congress. There is also an additional 20,000 approvals reserved for individuals with a US Master’s Degree or higher. Currently, the demand far exceeds the supply and therefore, the available H-1B are distributed via a lottery system. Here are the changes being made to H-1B Visas for 2021?

Are they Changing the laws around H-1 B Visas?

In October 2020 the new H-1B rules by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DoL) were put into effect. This made it harder to exploit the H-1B program and replace Americans.

The new rules will Narrow the definition of “specialty occupation”, require companies to make “real” offers to “real employees,” and reining in what it considers to be shadow employees by closing loopholes and preventing the displacement of the American worker; and, Enhance DHS’s ability to enforce compliance through worksite inspections and monitor compliance before, during, and after an H1-B petition is approved.

Why were these changes made ?

The biggest reason these changes were made was to update the prevailing wage levels under the existing wage structure to better reflect the actual wages earned by us workers. This update will help the DOL to be more effective at ensuring that the employment of all workers does not adversely affect workers.

Currently, the government is evaluating how they can require American Citizens to be given more of a priority for these positions, as well as making sure that the available approvals are in fact being given to the most skilled. “How to prioritize who should get the H-1B visa and also to make sure Americans are not displaced by workers brought in by the visa program,” said Neil Ruiz, executive director of the Center for Law, Economics, and Finance at George Washington University. ( CNN )

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