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H1-B Cap season opens with a blend of hope and mixed emotions

The H1-B registration season officially opened on March 6, and this was welcomed with a blend of concerns, hope, and apprehension. The impact of the significant hike in fees goes with a bother. These hikes, exceeding 200% in some categories, raise concerns for smaller companies struggling with already tight budgets.

New Application Procedure: What does this mean?
This year, the H1-B visa application process underwent a significant change. Instead of employers applying for visas for specific workers, the U.S. government will now select individual workers directly. This new method aims to prevent companies from manipulating the system by submitting multiple applications for the same person. Despite these changes, the number of H-1B visas remains the same- 85,000 are available, making it competitive.
The H-1B program provides 85,000 visas annually to foreign workers in specialty occupations, 20,000 of which are reserved for those with advanced degrees through an annual lottery. In the past, USCIS selected lottery winners by registration, which gave those with multiple registrations a higher chance of being selected.

Reactions and Proposed Alternatives
The change in the selection process this year has been met with a variety of reactions. While the revamped lottery system offers hope for a more equitable selection process, the significant fee increases present a potential hurdle for smaller employers. These employers may find it challenging to sponsor visas for foreign talents due to the increased costs.
Another possible storm employers are likely to weather is the definition of “specialty occupation,” which would now require employees’ bachelor’s or master’s degrees to be directly related to the position for which they are being hired. In other words, individuals with generalized degrees may face disqualification, and being ordinarily qualified for the H1-B visa might not be enough.
Some immigration attorneys have advised alternative options to the H-1B program to be looked into, as the reality is that the demand for visas will far outweigh the number available, as has been the case for many years.
Employers can consider O-1 visas for individuals with extraordinary achievements in their fields or EB-2 employment-based visa category for noncitizens with backgrounds in the arts, sciences, and business whose work holds national significance and substantial merit.

Stay Informed
For more news update, visa application requirements/procedure, or immigration alerts, stay glued to our weekly news highlights. Follow reliable sources like the USCIS, DOL and our weekly newsletters to stay updated on the latest developments and opportunities.

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