US Unveils New H-1B Visa Lottery System

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On a separate note, the US officially started a pilot program on January 29 to renew the highly sought-after H-1B visas in the US. This will likely help thousands of Indian tech workers.

US Unveils New H-1B Visa Lottery System

US Unveils New H-1B Visa Lottery System: The US is changing a lot about its annual lottery for the H-1B specialty occupation visas, which are popular with Indian IT workers. The goal is to cut down on fraud and make the registration process better and easier.

On a separate note, the US officially started a pilot program on January 29 to renew the highly sought-after H-1B visas in the US. This will likely help thousands of Indian tech workers.

US Unveils New H-1B Visa Lottery System

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that lets US companies hire foreign workers for specialized jobs that need technical or general knowledge.

It’s how tech companies hire tens of thousands of workers from places like India and China every year.

One of the new, improved features of the system is that companies can choose who to register their employees based on the needs of the beneficiaries.

For this reason, the H-1B visa applications will now be recorded and accepted based on each individual applicant. In the past, people who applied for multiple visas often abused the system by doing so.

Based on their personal information, like passport numbers, one person would be counted as one entry even if they send it to more than one company.

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The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also released a set of new rules that are meant to make the H-1B registration process more honest and less likely to be hacked.

The federal office said on Tuesday that this includes making it harder to cheat the registration system and making sure that every beneficiary has the same chance of being chosen, no matter how many registrations are made on their behalf.

”We’re always looking for ways to bolster integrity and curtail the potential for fraud while improving and streamlining our application processes,” said USCIS Director Ur M Jaddou.

”The improvements in these areas should make H-1B selections more equitable for petitioners and beneficiaries and will allow for the H-1B process to be fully electronic from registration, if applicable, until final decision and transmission of approved petitions to the Department of State,” he said.

USCIS also said that the first round of registration for the fiscal year 2025 H-1B cap will begin at noon on March 6 and end on March 22. During this time, people who want to petition and their representatives, if they have one, must use a USCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the fee for each recipient.

Companies will be able to open an account starting February 28. This account can be used to begin and finish the licensing process.

USCIS said that this final rule has parts that will make the registration process more trustworthy for employers, give more options for start dates for some petitions that are subject to the congressionally mandated H-1B cap, and make the registration process more beneficiary-centered.

USCIS says that under the beneficiary-centric process, registrations will be chosen based on a specific recipient instead of the registration itself. The new process is meant to cut down on fraud and make sure that every beneficiary has the same chance of being chosen, no matter how many registrations their company sends in on their behalf, the statement said.

Starting with the initial registration period for fiscal year 2025, which starts on October 1, 2024, USCIS will ask registrants to give valid passport or travel document details for each beneficiary.

The person who is applying for an H-1B visa must show the same passport or travel document that they plan to use to enter the United States if they are granted one. One passport or travel paper must be used for each beneficiary, it said.

USCIS is also making it clearer what needs to be done about the requested job start date on some petitions that are subject to the congressionally mandated H-1B cap. This will allow filing with requested start dates that are after October 1 of the relevant fiscal year, which is what the policy is now.

Also, the H-1B final rule makes it official that USCIS can reject or cancel H-1B petitions if the registration itself had a false attestation or was otherwise not legal. The new rule also says that USCIS can reject or take back the approval of an H-1B petition if it finds that the registration fee was declined, not reconciled, disputed, or otherwise not legal after the petition was sent in.

Sharvari Dalal-Dheini, Director of Government Relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), said in a statement that the new H-1B registration process will change how random registration works and make the system more fair.

”After last year’s registration period, when more than 750,000 registrations were submitted for 85,000 visas, it was clear that the existing system was unworkable. AILA and our partners advocated for exactly the sort of changes announced in this rule; changes that will ensure a beneficiary-centric lottery process to level the playing field,” she said.

”It is commendable that DHS took steps to shift from a flawed model to one that will create a fairer system in time for this year’s registration period,” Dalal-Dheini said. Meanwhile, the pilot programme to renew the much sought-after H-1B foreign work visas domestically will allow H-1B visa holders who are currently in status to renew their visas in the US before a temporary trip abroad. An announcement in this regard was made during the historic State visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June last year.

As of Monday, the State Department said that applications for the test program will be accepted from January 29, 2024, to April 1, 2024, or until all the spots are filled, whichever comes first.

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Not many H-1B nonimmigrants will be able to update their visas from inside the US for the first time in almost twenty years.

The State Department said that the pilot program is optional and that it will accept about 4,000 applications each week. Of these, 2,000 will be from people whose previous H-1B visas were issued by US diplomatic missions in Canada and another 2,000 will be from people whose previous H-1B visas were issued by US embassies and consulates in India.

On January 29, February 5, February 12, February 19, and February 26, application spots will open up. Those who want to apply can only do so through the link below during the dates listed above, the statement said. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received until the weekly limit is met.

“Applicants who are unable to apply on one application date may reattempt application on any of the remaining application dates during the entry period. The application period will close when all application slots are filled or on April 1, 2024, whichever comes first,” it said.

It should take between six and eight weeks to process the application after the State Department receives the applicant’s passport and any other papers they need.

The State Department said that all applications will be treated in the strict order of when they are received and processed.

“Individuals who do not meet the requirements for participation in the pilot programme, or those who choose not to participate in the pilot programme, may continue to apply for visa renewal at a US embassy or consulate overseas,” the State Department said.