Many California businesses, especially in the tech industry, have relied heavily on the H-1B program to recruit foreign nationals for scientific and technical jobs. In many cases, H-1B workers have studied at U.S. universities and have high-level qualifications in their fields, but the process of receiving approval for workers with these visas has become more difficult. The program has become a topic of political debate, with opponents arguing that it displaces American workers. Employers, on the other hand, have argued that H-1B visas are typically offered to skilled technical workers with advanced knowledge whose contributions are necessary to keep an edge in scientific research, development and implementation.
Rule change proposed for H-1B program
The Department of Homeland Security is proposing a new rule for H-1B application processing. Under the proposed rule, announced on October 28, applicants with the highest potential wages would receive the highest priority for processing. Around 85,000 H-1B visas are issued every year, which are handled through a randomized lottery selection before individual applications are considered. There are four wage tiers already in place, with level one being the lowest and level four being the highest. Under the change, all level four applications would be considered first, with level one applications receiving the lowest priority.
No level one applications likely to be selected
According to the DHS, this rule change would mean that none of the applicants at the lowest wage level are likely to be accepted, even though H-1B visas can involve workers in different types of job categories. Proponents of the change claim that it would make the program more beneficial for businesses as well as American workers.
Negotiating the ongoing changes to this employment immigration program can be a challenge for many companies, especially those in the tech sector who rely on skilled foreign nationals. An immigration law attorney may provide advice and representation throughout the H-1B process.