Prelims level : International Mains level : Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations
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Why in News:

  • Under the new visa regime in the U.S., foreign students who complete their master’s or any higher degree from American universities will have a better chance of obtaining H-IB visas.


  • The master’s cap of 20,000 visas is available only to applicants with a master’s or a higher degree from nationally-accredited public or not-for-profit educational institution in the U.S. any proposal to prioritise students who study in the United States would represent a very positive development for Indians, who account for around 20% of all international students in the country.”

What is H1 B visa?

  • The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa.
  • It allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
  • Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries such as India and China.
  • The H1-B visa has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 each fiscal year, as mandated by the Congress. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.
  • According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), between 2007 and 2017, it received the maximum number of 2.2 million H-1B petitions from high-skilled Indians. India was followed by China with 301,000 H-1B petitions during the same period.

Eligibility unchanged

  • The eligibility requirements for students remain unchanged.
  • Facing significantly higher rejections and Requests for Evidence (RFEs), Indian IT companies have already begun ramping up hiring in the U.S., but are hampered by the small size of the talent pool in that country.
  • This change shrinks the pool of visas available to Bachelor’s degree holders and will make it tougher for Indian IT workers to work in the U.S.
  • Increasing restrictions on the H-1B, for example, on a spouse’s right to work and on the
  • threshold salary, could still impact Indians who meet the U.S. study requirements.
  • As a result of this uncertainty, an increasing number of people seeking alternative immigration solutions.
  • This includes L1 visas, an E-2 visa coupled with citizenship of Grenada, and the EB-5
  • investor visa, which is the fastest route to a Green Card,”

The H-1B puzzle

  • The USCIS had recently reversed the order in which it conducted the H-1B lottery, which is held if the number of H-1B petitions exceeds the annual cap of 85,000 visas.
  • This cap consists of two categories — 20,000 visas open only to applicants with a Master’s or higher degree and 65,000 visas open to all eligible applicants including those with advanced degrees.
  • Until now, the lottery for the master’s cap was held first. Going ahead, lottery for the regular cap will be done first followed by the baster’s lottery.
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