DHS may revise definition of specialty occupation for H-1B visa program next month

Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security .

Fall 2019 agenda also proposes changes in H-4 work visa for spouses of foreign workers.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has just published their Fall 2019 regulatory agenda proposing several changes to be enlisted as early as next month.

These include redefining specialty occupation as well as employer-employee relation for H-1B visa program for highly skilled foreign workers. Changes are also proposed in H-4 EAD work visa program for spouses of foreign workers in specialty occupations.

The regulatory agenda is released every year in Spring and Fall and includes regulations issued by DHS components

The proposed changes, according to the DHS, are aimed at increasing the focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program.

The employer-employee relationship is sought to  be redefined to better protect U.S. workers and wages. DHS would also propose additional requirements to ensure that employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders.

“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,” DHS stated

“In addition, these changes are intended to ensure that the H-1B program supplements the U.S. workforce and strengthens U.S. worker protections.”

As the Fall agenda lists the H-4EAD removal timeline as March 2020, spouses looking for employment under H-4 program can look for an announcement in the Spring of next year.

Both H-1B visa and H-4 work permit for spouses have come under immense scrutiny under the Trump administration because of its  Buy American and Hire American (BAHA) policy.

As the administration continues to move further with its tightening of immigration laws, the skill-based immigration according to lawyers has taken the heat.

The upcoming proposals listed in the Fall Regulatory Agenda suggest continued efforts towards a tougher legal immigration process. However, for now one could take respite as these are just proposals that may happen only in the future.


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