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Update: Changes Proposed To H-1B Visa Program

Last month, I wrote about the Trump administration’s reported plan to change the H-1B visa lottery system and how it could benefit tech companies, particularly in Seattle and San Francisco. On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security officially released a plan to do just that.

As predicted, the proposed change is likely to benefit petitioners holding a master’s degree or higher. In fact, USCIS says that the change could increase the number of H-1B holders with advanced degrees as much as 16%, according to CNN.

The reason this is seen as a boon to tech companies is that they’re more likely to hire advanced degree holders than are technology staffing companies, which have gained notoriety by flooding the lottery with dubious petitions. In fact, the proposed change is viewed by some as an attempt to prevent this practice.


Another proposed change to the H-1B process, and one that I didn’t touch on in last month’s post, is to allow employers to register online and then only prepare a petition if an applicant is selected from the lottery. This a potentially dramatic cost-saving measure for businesses, as the H-1B petition process is costly and time-consuming. If the proposed change is adopted, businesses wouldn’t have to pay legal fees for the petition to be prepared unless and until the applicant was selected.

It’s not yet clear when these proposed changes will be implemented. H-1B petitions are due in the spring, so it’s possible that the administration wants the new system to be in place by then, but we won’t know until after the public comment period ends on January 2, 2019.

Stay tuned for more updates on these proposed changes.

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