- President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security Delays Changes to H-1B Lottery – read now
President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security Delays Changes to H-1B Lottery
Late last year, the Trump administration made waves when it announced changes to the H-1B visa petition process. H-1B visas are three-year visas with a one-time renewal, which are used by companies to hire foreign workers in “specialty occupations” requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher as a minimum qualification standard. These “specialty occupations” include positions such as certain IT/computer professionals, engineers, healthcare workers, accountants, management consultants, and other professional occupations.
Instead of the lottery which employers and immigration practitioners had grown accustomed to, which provided everyone with an equal opportunity to obtain an immigration visa (subject to certain additional caps), the Trump administration announced rulemaking which would prioritize immigration petitions submitted on behalf of higher-earning workers and workers in higher-skilled positions. The final rule implementing these changes was published on January 8, 2021, leading many to question whether the Biden administration would allow them to take effect.
On February 8, 2021, the Biden administration responded, publishing a new final rule delaying the Trump administration’s final rule from taking effect until December 31, 2021. In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) will test the modifications and conduct an overall evaluation of the January 8 final rule. This means that, effective December 31, 2021, DHS could keep the final rule, scrap it entirely, or modify it in some way.
For employers, the big takeaway is that the existing H-1b lottery system will not change for this year. From March 9 through March 25, employers seeking to sponsor an employee for an H-1B visa will need to register with USCIS for one of the 65,000 available H-1B cap-subject visas. By March 31, USCIS will notify selected registrants whether they may file a full H-1B cap-subject petition starting on April 1.
If you have questions about sponsoring an employee for an H-1b visa, please contact our Employment & Labor Law practice group.
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