DHS makes final rule for a more effective and efficient H1B visa program

Before the discussion on the “final rule” published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), let’s quickly explain what the H-1B visa program is all about, for better understanding of this new rule. The H-1B visa program is a program for non-immigrant that enables US companies to employ workers from the graduate level. Especially in occupations requiring technical expertise in specialized fields.

So for instance, if you were a graduate of computer engineering in India and you had a job offer from Google, you would need the H-1B visa to be able to work for Google in Silicon Valley. It is applied for by the employer on behalf of their foreign employees. It allows American companies access to foreign expertise that may not be readily available within the country, enhancing their ability to compete favorably with other international companies.


Valid from April 1, 2019, the DHS has set a final rule changing the regulations overseeing the H-1B cap-subject petitions, which includes those who would be eligible for the advanced degree (a Masters degree for example) exemption. It reverses the order in which the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will select H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap as well as the advanced degree exemption, introducing a requirement for H-1B petitioners to enter an electronic registration. Although this requirement is will be suspended for the 2020 fiscal year (FY) cap season. This rule by the DHS was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 31.

Under this rule, the USCIS will select H-1B petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that would be eligible for the advanced degree exemption, first. Then the USCIS will make selections from the remaining available petitions, a number expected to reach the advanced degree exemption. This change in the order by which USCIS counts these allocations will most likely increase the chances and the number of petitions of beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree, especially from a U.S. institution to be selected under the H-1B numerical allocations

This reverse form of selection order will apply to petitions filed for the FY 2020 H-1B cap season. Petitioners are expected to file an H-1B petition in no excess of six months before the employment start date that is requested for the beneficiary. USCIS provides instructions on how to submit H-1B cap applications on uscis.gov in advance of the filing season.


This rule set by the DHS is expected to provide several results. For one, it is expected to increase government efficiency in handling the petitions it receives, as well as reducing the overall cost employers spend in filing these petitions.

It is also expected to increase the number of advanced degree holders especially those with the degree from a U.S higher institution, its an estimated increase of up to 16% that is, over 5000 workers to be selected. This means that U.S. employers who are seeking to take in foreign workers with a U.S institution’s master’s degree or higher will have a better chance of doing so considering the current excess demand for H-1B visas.

It could also lead to more advantages for Indian applicants with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. Who already form the overwhelming majority of petitions filed for an H-1B visa.

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  • July 27th, 2019
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