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H1-B Visa To Open To New Applicants On 3rd April

30 Mar 2017


h1b visa

There has been much debate around the future of the H1-B visa category in the United States and around the world since Donald Trump set restructuring the immigration system in his sights. April 3rd sees the H-1B visa application process begin for the year 2017-18 inviting skilled workers that meet the requirements to apply for a visa.  Historically demand for the visas is high and last year the 85,000 limit was massively exceeded with application figures reaching 236,000 applicants, with the 85,000 quota being reached within one week of the process opening.  Should the 85,000 quota be reached then awards will be made by a lottery system.

There have already been changes to the application process which is impacting both companies and individuals wanting to take advantage of the visa category.  The fast track system that guaranteed processing within 15 days has been suspended for now, apparently to allow officials to deal with the new influx of applicants which can now take as long as 8 months to process.  Those already holding H-1B visas who want to change jobs within the US have also taken advantage of the express system – they are allowed to work for up to 240 days during this process but the process time may well be longer than this.

Clearly this impacts the requirements of tech companies operating in the United States who need to fill vacancies with skills shortages quickly.  Already many tech companies currently located in the US are looking to other countries to relocate to which offer a more relaxed visa system, while it has been well reported in India that their tech sector is set to be heavily impacted by any changes to the H-1B visa system.

Opponents of the H1-B visa suggest that the system is open to abuse and is being used to exploit workers as outsourcing companies issue multiple visa requests to take advantage of the lottery system and calls have been made to overhaul the application system.  It remains to be seen whether changes are introduced but in the meantime there seems little doubt that the quota for this year will be quickly filled and demand will still outstrip demand.

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