Sunday, July 21, 2024
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New H-1B visa rules to be released on July 8: How could they impact on Indians?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is gearing up to reveal a set of new regulations for H-1B visas, with implications that could reshape the landscape for both employers and professionals, notably those from India. The proposed regulations are slated for release on July 8, marking the initiation of a public commentary period before the visa alterations become official.

H-1B visas serve as the primary avenue for Indian IT companies to dispatch their software engineering experts to work in the United States, with Indians historically representing the largest cohort of H-1B recipients.

What are the changes?

The envisioned rule changes seek to introduce a $4,000 fee for extending H-1B visas and a $4,500 fee for extending L-1 visas, in alignment with the 9/11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee – a expense currently applicable only to initial visa petitions and changes in employers.

Initially tabled by the USCIS on October 23 last year, the proposed rule is presently undergoing a 60-day commentary phase. Forbes reports suggest that the Biden administration could finalise the rule towards the end of this year or after the upcoming election.

The alterations could potentially disrupt numerous Indian H-1B visa holders and prospective applicants, affecting thousands from India who seek to live and work in the US. A debatable clause under scrutiny is the revision introducing constraints on H-1B-eligible roles by redefining speciality occupations, stipulating that job roles must necessitate specific degrees closely tied to the job in the context of directly related specific specialities.

This provision mirrors a policy from the Trump era that was litigated due to concerns about its exclusion of numerous skilled international professionals. Notably, the redefinition could pose challenges for individuals with business administration degrees, categorising them as holding a ‘general degree’ insufficient for speciality occupation standing.

Moreover, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is contemplating imposing substantial fees on employers for H-1B and L-1 visa extensions, particularly targeting entities with over 50 percent of their workforce on these visas. These visas enable US companies to import skilled talents for specialised roles that are demanding to fulfill locally, underscoring their significance in the American job market.

Indians maintain the highest count of H-1B visa holders, liable to be significantly impacted by the proposed amendments. Companies dependent on visa extensions may confront sizeable financial ramifications, prompting a reevaluation of their hiring strategies concerning foreign employees.

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