As you may be aware, premium processing of H-1B Visa applications was temporarily suspended in early April of 2017, and then resumed again in early October 2017. However, new regulations governing the program have now taken effect. If you are a business that has relied on the H-1B Visa program to procure certain employees, here’s what you need to know about the changes to the H-1B Visa regulations.
Regulations Intended to Curtail Program Abuse
It’s important to note that the more strict regulations are intended to curtail some of the H-1B Visa program abuses that have happened in the past. Previously, outsourcing firms in India and China, which account for 70% and 9.3% of H-1B Visa petitions, respectively, have tended to flood the market with petitioners who will work for much less than their U.S. counterparts. Bear in mind that these outsourcing firms also profit when their petitioners are awarded one of the 85,000 H-1B Visas that are made available via lottery each year.
The ultimate purpose of the new regulations is to prevent abuse of the program by foreign outsourcing firms, ensure that H-1B Visa recipients are paid a fair salary, and to make sure that H-1B Visa recipients actually do the work for which they were hired.
Oversight for Intended Work to Be Done
One of the new regulations for the H-1B Visa is that hiring companies must report specific assignments that visa recipients will work on during the three-year engagement under the H-1B Visa. The report must include details about the work, address where it will take place, the hours involved, employer name, supervisor name and telephone numbers.
While this necessitates extra paperwork, it helps to protect visa recipients who have accepted a work assignment in good faith from being used inappropriately as a temporary employee by the hiring company. This oversight also prevents a company from engaging in “benching,” where they “hold” a visa recipient without using them—or paying them—to work on a project until they are needed.
Minimum Salary Raised
Previously, the minimum salary for H-1B Visa holders was $60,000. Recently, Congress voted to increase the minimum salary to $90,000. The increase is intended to prevent companies from using foreign nationals of H-1B Visas to perform specialized work simply in order to avoid paying the higher salaries of a U.S. worker. The increase also helps to prevent foreign nationals from being unfairly exploited while working in this country.
Finally, under the new regulations, petitions for the H-1B Visa will not be approved in batches. Rather, each individual petition will be reviewed on its own merit. This will result in slower processing times, and delayed approvals. The closer scrutiny will ensure that only petitioners and companies that follow the tighter regulations will be awarded the coveted H-1B Visa.
When you consider the reasoning behind the stricter regulations and understand what they are, you can see that they are not unreasonable. As long as your company complies with the new regulations, you should be able to conduct business as usual.
“Remember, wealth has nothing to do with money, success has everything to do with failure, and life is as simple as you make it!” – John Dessauer