Fresh registrations for H-1B visas kickstarted on Tuesday, 9 March, a week after the Biden administration revoked a policy put in place by former president Donald Trump that blocked many Green Card applicants from entering the US.
H-1B visa allows an individual to temporarily work in the United States for a period of 3 years, extendable to 6 years, in an area of expertise.
When does the registration for H-1B visas end?
This year, the H-1B registration begins on 9 March and ends on 25 March.
The USCIS intends to notify selected registrants by 31 March, following which H-1B cap-subject petitions can be filed.
Who can apply for it? Is there a cap on H-1B visas issued every year?
Applicants working in specialty occupations that require theoretical and technical expertise can apply for H-1B visas. The H-1B is most popular among Indian IT professionals.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has an annual limit of providing 65,000 new H1-B visas each fiscal year for people with occupations in areas of expertise; theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialised knowledge.
The USCIS additionally, also grants 20,000 new H-1B visas to those foreign workers who have earned a Master’s or a higher university degree in the US.
As per a PTI report in April, 2020, the US received close to 275,000 registration requests, of which approximately 67 percent were from India.
What is the registration process?
- In order to submit an H1-B registration, the registrant must create a USCIS account.
- Each registrant or their representative are required to pay $10 non-refundable H-1B registration fee.
- The registration process requires basic information about the worker.
- Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
How will visas be selected this year? What is the ‘lottery’ system?
This year will see the use of lottery system for selections of visas.
Since the arrival of internet in countries such as India, Pakistan and China, the number of applications received by the USCIS exponentially increased due to a lack of jobs within the applicant’s country. This led to the introduction of a computerised lottery system that randomly selected the eligible applicants.
However, this year will most likely be the lottery system’s last year. As per the new wage-based H1-B visa, applicants will now be selected on the basis of their salaries. According to USCIS, salaries offered by employers are the best indicators for the most deserving candidates, The Indian Express reported.
Though the wage-based selection of H-1B petitions was expected to come into effect on 9 March 2021, the Biden administration has put it on hold till 31 December 2021, for review.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and PTI.)