In 2017, when president Trump resumed office, many experts in tech expected that he would do a total face-change on the H-1B visa scheme, but surprisingly, that was not to be. It was truly a surprise because all through his campaign, he hammered that the visa scheme was terribly bad for workers.
When he became president, Trump did not cancel out the visa system; he didn’t leave it be either. He rather started nibbling on the scheme, making smaller moves which the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services affected by putting premium processing on suspension.
Are applicants with advanced degrees of top priority?
But then, these small moves will amount to something tangible and significant by 2019. Take, for instance, the US government’s plan to change a fundamental rule of the H-1B pools to a new pattern where all applicants — no matter the level of their degrees — enter into the yearly ‘general pool’ of 65,000 H-1B visas. In the next phase, applicants with advanced degrees who were not successful in the general pool will then enter the ‘master’s cap pool’ of 20,000 visas. This is in contrast with the procedure in the current system where those with advanced degrees are first put into the ‘master’s cap pool’ after which the unsuccessful ones are then put into the ‘general pool.’ So basically, this new system is made to favor applicants with advanced degrees by increasing their chances of getting the visa.
Additionally, the Department of Labour in the US now requires employers who are bringing in foreign workers to fill out paperwork that specifies which of the visa candidates that will be working in subcontract positions. This method could make things difficult for staffing companies that have assigned H-1B visa holders to other companies. The possibility of having bad publicity about the whole thing could discourage clients from using those workers. It was for this reason, that a non-profit consortium of organizations that provide IT services, known as IT Serve Alliance charged USCIS to court in October.
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