The US administration has issued a rule, announcing that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose the revision of “specialty occupations” definition for the H-1B visa program.
According to the rule published on the website of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs last week, such changes will be proposed with the aim of increasing focus on obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program.
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program, and revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect U.S. workers and wages. In addition, DHS will propose additional requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders,” the rule reads.
According to the DHS the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is planning to come out with the new proposal on concrete changes by January 2019.
“The purpose of these changes is to ensure that H-1B visas are awarded only to individuals who will be working in a job which meets the statutory definition of specialty occupation,” the rule reads further, adding that these changes are intended to ensure the H-1B program supplements the US workforce and strengthens US worker protections.
As per now, the US administration defines a specialty occupation as a job, which “requires a theoretical and practical application of a body specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent“. Such occupations are considered architecture, mathematics, physical sciences, engineering, medicine and health, education, law, accounting etc. It is still unknown how specialty occupations will be defined in the future, until the publication of the proposed changes.
The DHS has still not estimated the costs and benefits that would come as a result of the proposed provisions. However, IT industry body Nasscom claims that these changes will cost to global IT services companies that play a crucial role in keeping American companies stay competitive in the global market.
The proposal is just another in the chain-changes undertaken and suggested by the Trump administration within the last months. On October 1, the US administration started sending Notices to Appear to those remaining in the US under expired visas, while earlier in September, the DHS announced it would come up with a decision to revoke work permits to holders of H-4 visas, which are spouses of H-1B visas.