Our 2017 H1B Visa Predictions

If you have been following our blog and articles then you know that there are a number of issues that could affect the H1B work visa program in 2017.  These developments are being closely watched by a number of interested parties, including foreign governments (India in particular), the IT industry in the US (the largest sponsor of H1B visas), skilled foreign workers, and their US counterparts who are being replaced by lower wage H1B employees.

The H1B.io 2017 Predictions

While there are many variables in play at the moment such as the outcome of the US presidential election, we will venture to make a few predictions about the H1B visa program for the coming year.

  • There will be more H1B visa petitions in 2017 than in any previous year, due to the fact that so many applicants have missed the quota through the lottery the past three years (around 250,000 in total) that many will likely re-apply for another chance in the existing program.
  • Uncertainty about the future of the H1B visa program may spur even more foreign nationals to find US sponsors, if they believe that the program could be restricted in the coming years and that 2017 may present the best chance at obtaining a visa.
  • President Trump will have a lot of impact on the program.  You can read more about this in our related article. However, it’s unlikely we will see big changes to the H1B program in 2017.
  • There will be some type of new legislation put to a vote in the next year in the US congress, and those bills will aim to place restrictions on the program to prevent displacement of qualified US workers and discourage large IT consulting companies from “cornering” the annual H1B visa quota.  
  • The most likely legislative reform would be around increasing the income requirement (currently $60,000) to bypass the need to look for a US worker first.  It is also possible that large sponsors of H1B visa workers will be barred from the program altogether.
  • There will be increased publicity and political pressure placed on any company that is hiring H1B foreign workers to replace US workers.  Immigration has become a hot topic, and not in the US as many countries are narrowing their immigration policies.  The Brexit vote in the UK to leave the EU was largely motivated by anger over loose EU immigration rules.
  • Qualified skilled workers will continue to have access to many different types of occupations through the H1B visa program in 2017, especially positions that are cap-exempt and outside the political fray surrounding the quota, restrictions and number of available visas.
  • The H1B visa fee increase for high-volume sponsors ($4000 per petition) will remain in effect, despite complaints by India and IT companies that it presents an unfair restriction on trade.
  • Foreign governments will attempt to place the H1B visa program in the context of trade agreements and treaties to gain some influence in overcoming any new restrictions.  For example, there is special visa quota that is available each year for Chile and Singapore, and other countries may seek similar quotas outside the lottery.
  • Foreign students graduating in the US will enjoy expanded opportunities to obtain H1B visas (via the OPT program or university-sponsored businesses) and even green cards for permanent residency.

Not all of these predictions will come true of course, but represent very real possibilities of H1B visa reform and changes for the future.  There is a global wave of immigration reform occurring in developing countries, and that is also taking hold in the US.  If you have questions about locating and securing an H1B visa sponsor, please contact us.  2017 may be your best chance to obtain this sought after work visa and secure a position in the US.

  • December 12th, 2016
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