Biden Admin to modernize the H-1B visa program and revise wage methodology.

The Biden administration will roll out the first-ever bi-annual agenda for the proposed course of action regarding the H-1B visa program. 

In its spring H-1B visa program released on Friday, the Department of Homeland Security proposed to revise the regulations related to the ‘Employer-employee relationship.’ The schedule will also plan to implement new requirements and guidelines for site visits, including related applications filed by employers sponsoring H-1B visa workers, where fraud is indicated. 

According to experts in the Immigration sector, it is unclear what a revision in rules related to the ’employer-employee relationship’ could entail. However, experts pointed out that draft proposals will be issued by December and will undergo the proper rulemaking process, including stakeholders’ comments and vetting the same, before finalization. However, it will not adversely impact genuine business needs. 

The H-1B visa program also has called for a revision in the methodology for deciding the general wage levels for H-1B and green cardholders. One of the action points in President Joe Biden’s manifesto is to ‘curb the exploitation of foreign workers, by ensuring that employees cannot hire below the current market rate.’

The US administration has asked for public comments on the best methodology and data to update the required minimum wage requirements for H-1B visa and green cardholders. The admin will release the draft on wage methodology in November 2021, several months before it is finalized. In addition, there will be a transitional phase to the new wage levels. 

The homeland security department is also reviewing proposals by the Trump admin, which sought to allocate H-1B visas based on wages rather than the lottery system. Biden admin has set the effective date of this proposal until December 2021. 

Filing fees for H-1B visas, visa extensions, and other applications filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services are expected to increase and will be known in November 2021. However, the judicial system has stonewalled fee hikes sought by the Trump admin, including 80 percent hikes for citizenship applications. 

The homeland security department also proposes to provide flexibility on employment start dates and address the ‘cap-gap issues faced by international students. Cap-gap refers to when an international student’s F-1 status ends, and the H-1B status begins. 

Many students have lost due to these rulings, and the spring schedule indicates that the cap-gap issue will be addressed by the Biden admin’s H-1B visa program. 

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