USCIS Announces Proposed Changes to the H-1B Program
On October 20, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it is proposed considerable changes to the existing H-1B program. Some of the notable proposals include:
- Streamlining eligibility requirements: The criteria for specialty occupation positions would be revised to ensure a direct relationship between the required degree/major and the duties of the position. It would be acknowledged that there may be more than one acceptable degree field for a specialty occupation and that a general degree would be insufficient to qualify.
- Improving program efficiency: The Department of Homeland Security will clarify when an amended or new H-1B petition must be filed due to a change in a foreign worker’s place of employment.
- Providing greater benefits and flexibilities for employers and workers: Certain exemptions to the H-1B cap would be expanded for certain non-profit entities or governmental research organizations and beneficiaries who are not directly employed by a qualifying organization. DHS would also extend certain flexibilities for students on a F-1 visa when students are seeking to change their status to H-1B and establish new H-1B eligibility requirements for rising entrepreneurs.
- Strengthening integrity measures: The H-1B registration selection process would be improved to reduce the possibility of misuse and fraud, including by prohibiting related entities from submitting multiple registrations for the same beneficiary. USCIS will also have authority to conduct onsite visits and clarify that refusal to comply with such visits may result in denial or revocation of an H-1B petition.
There will be a 60-day comment period and if the changes go into effect, it may be implemented as early as the upcoming FY2025 H-1B cap season that begins in March/April 2024. Stand by for updates.