U.S. government delays plans for changes in H-1B visa program

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2021 | Employment Immigration

The Biden Administration on Feb. 4 announced it will delay a plan that modifies how the country issues H-1B visas. The current lottery-based selection system will remain in place through the end of the year rather than replaced by a wage-based incentive program implemented by the Trump Administration, said the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The new rule was set to take effect on March 9. The USCIS said that the delay provides the government with additional time to review system development, complete testing, train staff and seek public outreach in order for people to become more adjusted to the rule.

Annually, 85,000 H-1B visas issued

During the last days of the Trump Administration, the USCIS announced plans on Jan. 7 to eliminate the lottery system, replacing it with a wage-based selection process. The new process was designed to provide incentives to employers in order to provide higher salaries. The Trump Administration contended that prioritizing wages would protect American workers, while ensuring that foreign workers benefited while temporarily working in the country.

The H-1B visa program benefits foreign workers in specialty occupations and the U.S. companies that hire them. For example, many tech companies rely on thousands of workers from China and India.

The USCIS annually issues 85,000 H-1B visas. A total of 65,000 are for foreign workers and another 20,000 to foreign students who have finished their studies at U.S. universities in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Through the decades, many U.S companies – including tech companies, start-up companies and rural medical facilities – have grown dependent on highly skilled foreign workers.



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