H-1B visa norms amended, priority for higher wages, skills

The old lottery system will no longer be followed

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The US has amended the H-1B visa selection procedure of deserving candidates with priority being given to candidates who have higher wages and better skills.

The new rule will prioritise only those employers where the proffered wage is equal to or more than the average in the area of employment. The amendment will also take into account skillset and compare it with the local talent to check for the cost of labour.

It is difficult to judge skills on an individual basis, so salaries will be used to rank candidates. This move will reportedly also help preserve local talent, who otherwise will be ousted by a ‘non-deserving’ foreign talent.

Lack of employment opportunities in developing countries in the STEM field pushed several graduates to move to the US at low costs earlier. This had been criticised, as sending ‘low-cost workers’ was seen as replacing domestic workers, and thus came in the amendment accepting only the highly-skilled and higher-wage workers.

The H-1B visa system was started in 1952 with the US wanting to hire more quality workers at a reasonable cost. Since then, the H-1B visa system has undergone many changes. Every year, around 85,000 H-1B visas are issued in the US with the majority comprising people who are specialists in some field of work. To be precise, 65,000 H-1B visas account for specialist occupations, while the rest are individuals with at least a master’s degree or higher degrees from the US.

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