Skills Over Lottery? US To Modify H-1B Visa Selection Process

“H-1B temporary visa programme has been exploited and abused,” said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy.

2 min read

The United States on Thursday, 7 January, announced that it will alter its selection process for H1-B visa, prioritising salary and skills instead of the current lottery procedures.

Among other things, the final rule which will be published in the federal register on 8 January, according to PTI, said:

“While administering a random lottery system is reasonable, it is inconsiderate of Congress’s statutory purposes for the H-1B programme and its administration.”


According to PTI, the aim of the first rule is to protect the economic interest of US workers, as well as ensure that “most highly skilled foreign workers” rake the benefits of the temporary employment program.

Citing the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS), PTI has reported that changes to the H-1B cap selection process will incentivise employers to either offer higher salaries or petition for higher-skilled position or both. This will further establish a more certain plan for businesses to get personnel and remain globally competitive.

USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow, according to PTI, alleged that the “H-1B temporary visa programme has been exploited and abused by employers primarily seeking to fill entry-level positions and reduce overall business costs.”

“The current H-1B random selection process makes it difficult for businesses to plan their hiring, fails to leverage the programme to compete for the best and brightest international workforce, and has predominantly resulted in the annual influx of foreign labor placed in low-wage positions at the expense of US workers.”   
Joseph Edlow, USCIS Deputy Director for Policy


The final rule will be effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal register, and the next H-1B visa filing season is set to begin on 1 April, reported PTI.

The changes will apply to registrations submitted on or after the effective date of the final rule.

“It will be implemented for both the H-1B regular cap and the H-1B advanced degree exemption, but it will not change the order of selection between the two as established by the H-1B registration final rule.”   

USCIS, according to PTI, can issue a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas in a year. “It can also, according to PTI, issue another 20,000 H-1B visas to foreign students who have completed higher studies from a US university in STEM subjects.”

(With inputs from PTI.)

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