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Proposed H-1B Changes Favor Advanced-Degreed Workers

Proposed new rules by The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) favors H-1B foreign workers with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. It’s a move that, if passed, may increase the number of foreign workers with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution for further processing under the H-1B allocations and may result in 16% or 5,340 more graduate workers in the H-1B system.

The change is really a matter of process. There is a cap of 65,000 visas per fiscal year, plus an additional 20,000 for applicants with advanced degrees from US institutions. Under the proposed regulation, those with U.S. advanced degrees will first be evaluated for eligibility under the regular cap, even if they qualify for the advanced degree exemption.

Then, as the Office of the Federal Register explains, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would “select from the remaining registrations a sufficient number projected as needed to reach the advanced degree exemption. Changing the order in which USCIS counts these separate allocations would likely increase the number of beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected for further processing under the H-1B allocations.”

Dice Insights’ Nick Kolakowski reports that while approving more of these H-1B applicants could benefit large tech companies with their own recruiting teams who routinely hire advanced degree holders like Google and Apple, it could hurt smaller tech companies and consulting and subcontracting agencies that pursue visas for bachelor’s degree holders. Fewer of those spots will be up for grabs, but also another new regulation from the U.S. Department of Labor demands employers applying for H-1B visas for workers placed with a “secondary entity” (so, those who use outsourced talent) provide the name of that business, wage rate for nonimmigrant workers, and the prevailing wage rate.

These two rules combined can make outsourcing foreign workers trickier. Establishing a strong relationship with a reputable employment agency, therefore, could be more critical than ever.