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International

Trump era rule on H-1B selection criteria rescinded

February 06, 2021 05:16 AM

COURTSY HT FEB 6

Trump era rule on H-1B selection criteria rescinded
IT programmers need not show additional proof to establish eligibility as speciality professionals

A file photo of Joe Biden talking to a man objecting to his stance on deportations back in 2019. AP
Yashwant Raj

yashwant.raj@hindustantimes.com

Washington : In a move that could benefit Indian IT professionals, the US has rescinded a Trump era policy that had required computer programmers to produce additional proof to establish eligibility as speciality professionals in order to qualify for H-1B visas.

The United States citizenship and immigration services (USCIS), which administers the visa programme, rescinded its earlier guidance memo that had held that computer programmers were not entitled to H-1B visas meant for speciality occupations.

A fresh memo was issued to its officers on Wednesday in the wake of a December court ruling. USCIS had denied an H-1B visa application from Innova Solutions that wanted to hire an Indian citizen to work as a computer programmer. In a ruling on that case, the US court of appeals for the 9th circuit said the denial of H1-B visa petition was “arbitrary and capricious.”

In the new memo, the USCIS said it is rescinding the 2017 policy memorandum effective immediately to “ensure consistent adjudications across the H-1B programme”.

In another development, the homeland security department has delayed implementation of proposed changes to the H-1B registration system and selection process until December 31. The changes were to go into effect on March 9. The new procedure would have amended the lottery system of selecting petitions, with priority given to higher wage positions to ensure H-1Bs were granted only to highly skilled foreign workers, not to those with basic skills brought on low wages to replace local workers.

“For the upcoming H-1B cap season, USCIS will apply the current regulations (random selection) to any registration period that takes place before December 31, 2021,” USCIS, which is overseen by the homeland security department, said on Thursday.

Indians hired by US companies and US subsidiaries of Indian firms are by far the largest recipients of H-1B visas, accounting for more than 70% of the 85,000 issued annually.

Also on Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a larger annual intake of refugees, up to a cap of 125,000, from the 15,000-limit announced by President Donald Trump for 2021.

Biden’s new limit, which comes into effect in October, is nearer to the 110,000 ceiling for 2017 fixed by President Barack Obama. Trump had steadily brought it down.

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