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DHS Implements New Way to Conduct H-1B Lottery

If you are curious about the status of the H-1B visa—a popular work visa that is valid for three years and can be renewed for another three—under President Trump’s administration, here is the latest news.  Each year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) receives an immense number of applications for this work visa.  American companies pluck out the brightest minds from other countries who shine in the math and engineering fields and use them to advance our home-grown tech.  However, only 65,000 H-1B visas are given out annually, and another 20,000 are held for those with advanced degrees from educational institutions. Because the demand for H-1B visas is much greater than the available slots, a lottery system is used to choose the recipients


What is the New Rule?

The Department of Homeland Security has adopted a new rule which would modernize the visa lottery process by requiring employers to pre-register online, rather than submit a full paper application.  CIS would randomly select pre-registered applicants, who would then file their applications. Additionally, the rule will reverse the procedure for conducting the lottery, by first drawing from the general pool, then separating the Master degree holders and conducting the Master’s lottery.  In the past, CIS first conducted the Master’s Cap and then the general cap lotteries.

The rule would theoretically make it easier for holders of a Master’s degree or higher to be selected. Creating the pre-registration process online would theoretically reduce costs for the applicants by cutting out the paperwork and making the whole process much more efficient and streamlined.


New Rule Coming in 2021

The Trump Administration’s changes to the H-1B work visa program have been received with mixed reviews and concern.  The new system is not ready in time for this spring, but will be in effect for the 2021 fiscal year.  Additionally, there are concerns that CIS has the technical capacity to implement such a system.

The H1B visa has been an important program, especially for American tech companies, and a great stepping-stone to a green card for foreign nationals looking to start a life and a career in America.  The American economy profits from the H-1B program, yet President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order has been making it more difficult for companies to hire through the H-1B program. USCIS has also begun to deny more applicants, and recent policy changes have affected the adjudication process.  It is a changing world out there, and updates are made to immigration policy seemingly every week.

If your business would like to utilize the H-1B visa program, contact Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP, at 212-203-4795 to discuss your visa needs with an experienced New York immigration lawyer right away.


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