In a significant development, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has initiated a proposed rulemaking process to modernize the H-1B specialty occupation worker program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) aimed at enhancing program efficiency, strengthening integrity measures, and providing greater benefits for employers and workers.
The H-1B program, designed to enable U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in specialized occupations, is set to undergo substantial updates through this proposed rule.
Key highlights include:
Streamlining Eligibility Requirements: The proposed rule will revise criteria for specialty occupation positions to reduce confusion and clarify that a position may allow a range of degrees, provided there is a direct relationship between the required degree field(s) and the position's duties.
Improving Program Efficiency: USCIS will codify that adjudicators should generally defer to prior determinations when no underlying facts have changed during a new filing.
Providing Greater Benefits and Flexibilities: The rule will expand certain exemptions to the H-1B cap for nonprofit entities, governmental research organizations, and beneficiaries not directly employed by a qualifying organization. Additionally, it will extend flexibilities for F-1 visa students seeking to change their status to H-1B. New H-1B eligibility requirements for rising entrepreneurs will also be introduced.
Strengthening Integrity Measures: To reduce misuse and fraud, related entities will be prohibited from submitting multiple registrations for the same beneficiary. USCIS' authority to conduct site visits will be codified, with non-compliance potentially resulting in petition denial or revocation.
One notable change in the proposed rule is the modification of the H-1B registration selection process to prevent misuse and fraud. Each unique individual will have one entry in the selection process, regardless of the number of registrations submitted on their behalf, enhancing the chances of legitimate registrations being selected. This proposed rule aims to align the H-1B program with the evolving needs of U.S. employers, ensure fairness in the selection process, and enhance program integrity.
The 60-day public comment period will begin after the NPRM's publication in the Federal Register. Stay tuned for further developments as stakeholders, immigration experts, and the public weigh in on these proposed changes to the H-1B program.
[Note: The Law Offices of Keshab Raj Seadie PC will continue to monitor these developments closely and provide expert guidance on immigration matters.]