Upcoming changes to the H-1B visa program may pose new challenges to global mobility across industry lines. The tech industry is expected to be most impacted due to the significant portion of its talent pool coming from abroad, with India accounting for approximately 70% of all H-1B visa workers.
Changes may include controls for employers to take additional steps to fill positions with U.S. workers. These actions include a significant minimum salary increase for H-1B holders and removal of the master’s degree exception, phasing out work eligibility for trailing spouses of H-1B holders, and prioritizing H-1Bs for foreign students who have studied in the U.S. Overall, higher scrutiny and an approval process with more qualifiers and restrictions may impact access to H-1Bs in the future.
What significant changes have been implemented so far? The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services suspended premium processing—a temporary measure that may last up to six months. Premium processing expedites processing of H-1B petitions from months to fifteen days. This change may slow the process for U.S. companies hiring foreign workers, and impact employers who heavily rely on premium processing for filling positions with short timelines to meet developing talent needs.
Future reviews will be taking place which may further impact global mobility, including the J-1 program (summer work travel), the OPT (foreign students who stay in the U.S. after graduating,) and the E-2 (investor visa). L-1 visas (foreign workers who transfer to the U.S. from a company's office abroad) will also be reviewed.
For Global Mobility Professionals preparing for potential limitations, higher costs, and longer processing times for H-1B petitions, we recommend considering the following when planning:
- Work in close collaboration with immigration experts to plan for your current H-1B population. Plan ahead for employees eligible for extensions, and review the needs of those reaching renewal limits.
- File H-1B extensions petitions as early as possible. With premium processing for H-1B filings being suspended temporarily, timely filings may help mitigate additional delays.
- Be aware of the broader impact of the H-1B premium processing suspension. It may extend the period during which employees may not be able to travel internationally while their H-1B petition is under review. Seek advice from an immigration professional.
- Develop an internal communication plan to advise recruiters, hiring managers, and other stakeholders. Mobility professionals will play a key advisory role as a business partner to incorporate appropriate changes to the company’s talent management strategy.
Lexicon Relocation can help you with your planning for future global assignments. We work with a team of local experts ready to help your expatriates and H-1B visa workers with their immigration needs.