The United States is planning to modernise its H1-B programme, which could potentially benefit Indian applicants in the long run.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in its Spring Agenda, has proposed to amend its regulations pertaining to H-1B specialty occupation workers and F-1 students who are the beneficiaries of “timely filed” H-1B cap-subject petitions.

The Biden Administration’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Agenda) is a biannual agenda that reports on the actions administrative agencies plan to issue in the near and long term.

The DHS, in its Spring Agenda, has proposed to modernise the H-1B requirements and oversight as well as provide flexibility in the F-1 Programme.

Minimal processing time

“The idea is to make the process of issuing H1-B visa applications faster, smoother, and more flexible when it comes to recruitment and hiring,” said Sonam Chandwani, Managing Partner, KS Legal & Associates.

“It will minimise processing time, which is currently a major concern. Thus, if this is done, the process of applying for an H1-B visa will be expedited,” Chandwani added.

Specifically, the DHS has proposed to revise the regulations relating to “employer-employee relationship” and provide flexibility for start-up entrepreneurs.

The DHS has also proposed implementing new requirements and guidelines for site visits, including those in connection with petitions filed by H-1B dependent employers whose basic business information cannot be validated through commercially available data. It also intends to provide flexibility in terms of the employment start date listed on the petition (in limited circumstances) and address “cap-gap” issues that impact students with an F-1 visa.

The proposal also aims to “bolster the H-1B registration process to reduce the possibility of misuse and fraud in the H-1B registration system; clarify the requirement that an amended or new petition be filed where there are material changes, including by streamlining notification requirements relating to certain worksite changes, among other provisions.”

This is going to potentially benefit Indian applicants in the long run.

“They are intending to give entrepreneurs more leeway in hiring and recruiting immigrants. This will also ensure that we can seek employment in startups in the US,” Chandwani said.

“I believe that working with start-ups in Silicon Valley will be another advantage for us. They want to attract talent from other countries as well. One of the reasons is that they acquire talent and fairly cheaper resources from countries other than the United States,” added Chandwani.

Efficiency in process of switching status

In another proposed rule, the DHS has proposed amending its regulations in a bid to improve the efficiency of the processing of the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485). This is used by non-immigrant visa holders to switch status and apply for a green card or permanent residency.

The proposed rule is meant to reduce processing times, which is currently a major issue.

It is also meant to “improve the quality of inventory data provided to partner agencies and reduce the potential for visa retrogression.” The DHS intends to “promote the efficient use of immediately available immigrant visas to include the expansion of concurrent filing to the employment-based 4th preference (certain special immigrants) category, including religious workers.”

These changes proposed by the DHS are currently in the ‘Proposed Rule’ stage on the agenda. If introduced, it will be some time before these rules are implemented.

According to Chandwani, “This will take a little longer to implement because they will also have to make these changes internally to ensure that this process runs smoothly.”