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Changes to H-1B visa selection process delayed by government

The U.S. government will delay planned changes to eliminate the lottery-based selection process for H-1B visas, the much sought-after documents by highly skilled foreign workers. On Feb. 4, the Biden administration declared that it would temporarily put on hold plans to shift the visa selection to a wage-based incentive program created by the Trump administration.

Those changes were set to begin on March 9. However, the lottery-based selection system will remain in place until the end of the year, giving the government more time to implement and test systems, train employees and gain public feedback while becoming more familiar with the planned change, according to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). For years, the USCIS has relied on a lottery to annually issue 85,000 H-1B visas — sought by workers in the tech, medical, engineering, science industries.

Specialty workers from around the world

During the last two weeks of the Trump Administration, it declared on Jan. 7 its intentions to get rid of the lottery system in favor of the wage-based selection system. The proposed process would incentivize employers in order for them to provide higher salaries to highly skilled foreign workers.

These workers hail from countries such as India, China, Canada, South Korea and the Philippines. For decades, the U.S. has relied on highly skilled foreign workers who bring needed knowledge to many industries.

Here is a breakdown of the two groups that receive the 85,000 H-1B visas issued each year in the U.S.:

  • The majority – 65,000 – of the visas are designated for foreign workers.
  • The remaining 20,000 go to foreign students. This group of individuals has completed their schooling at U.S. universities in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Through the years, the H-1B visa program has bolstered many U.S. businesses, start-up companies and rural hospitals. At the same time, it has benefited the thousands of foreign workers who want to temporarily live and work in the U.S.

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