Many dominant tech companies and leaders in other industries rely on H-1B visas to bring highly-skilled foreign nationals to work in the United States in specialized occupations. However, the number of H-1B visas is capped at 85,000 per year – 20,000 for people with master’s degrees or higher from U.S. institutions, and 65,000 for all others. With employers submitting more than 200,000 petitions last year, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has used a lottery system to determine which petitions get approved.

In the past, USCIS issued the 20,000 visas to U.S. degree-holders first and then addressed the lottery for the remaining 65,000 visas. A new rule proposed in December 2018 would reverse the order of the lottery. This reversal would benefit potential applicants with advanced U.S. degrees over those with degrees from foreign institutions. USCIS claims this is a more merit-based and effective system. However, this means that someone with a recent master’s degree from a lower-ranked U.S. school could be favored over someone with a Ph.D. from Oxford University and 20 years of relevant experience or ground-breaking innovations in their field.

The new rule would also allow employers to electronically pre-register H-1B applicants for the lottery instead of having to submit full petitions. While this would purportedly reduce costs for employers, the uncertainty of what the 2019 process will be has already caused chaos and confusion for many corporations. We will keep you posted whether the new rule goes into effect for the April application window or not.

Consult with a Los Angeles Business Immigration Attorney

At the Gold Law Group, our experienced business immigration lawyer helps individuals and employers obtain necessary visas for maximum success. If you have any questions or concerns relating to business immigration, call or contact us online to discuss how we can help today.