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4 key changes to the H-1B visa program

Changes to the H-1B visa program went into effect April 1, aiming to improve and streamline the application and selection process of foreign national talent.

4 key changes to the H-1B visa program
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the economy will need as many as 100,000 new IT workers per year over the next decade. And, right now, only about 60,000 of these workers are entering the workforce every twelve months. Changes to the H-1B visa program aim to improve and streamline the H-1B visa allocation process by cutting down the administrative burden of application processing, as well as tilt the selection process in favor of those applicants holding U.S. master’s degrees. Two other proposed policy changes could limit the job prospects for international students and bar spouses of H-1B visa holders from receiving work authorization in the U.S.

Here’s a look at the key changes to the latest iteration of the H-1B visa and visa application process.

Greater emphasis on advanced degrees

In the previous iteration of the program, 85,000 H-1B visas were awarded each spring, of which 65,000 went to applicants with undergraduate degrees and the remaining 20,000 went to applicants who held advanced degrees, says Richard Burke, president and CEO of Envoy Global, a global talent acquisition firm. Companies fill out applications for workers and those are all put into a lottery with two separate pools. Visa grantees are then selected at random, first by pulling from the pool of candidates with undergraduate degrees and then from the pool with advanced degrees.

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