The Option Of B1 Visa In Lieu Of H1-B To Be Rescinded – Will Impact 6000 Indian Skilled Workers

According to a new proposal filed in the Federal Register, the US State Department plans to eliminate the option of issuing a B1 business visa in lieu of H1-B visa.  Commonly known as BILOH, the B1 visa is issued to certain foreign nationals who might otherwise qualify for an H1-B visa. With this, they may come in to the US for temporary period to perform a specific job related task and return to their home country. 

This proposal will be evaluated for public comments for the next 60 days and go into effect right after. If enacted as final ruling, approximately 8,000 highly skilled, foreign workers will be impacted. Majority of these come from India.

Applying for a U.S. B1 Business Visa?

Here’s a step-by-step process for the B1 visa application

What Is The New BILOH Proposal?

Certain foreign nationals who are eligible for an H1-B visa are issued a B1 business visa instead to enter the U.S. to perform legitimate business activities while still employed in their home country. This is issued for a short duration and the foreign national returns to his home country soon after. This option, known as ‘B in lieu of H’ is now proposed to be eliminated.

  • This is applicable to those who might be eligible for an H-1B specialty occupation or H-3 trainee visa.
  • The proposal also says that petitioners from the entertainment or athletic professions are not eligible for the B1, business visa. If they wish to apply for a temporary US visa to perform services within the scope of their profession they should apply for an O-1 or P-1 visa.
  • While H1-B visa is issued for a specialty occupation and warrants prevailing wages starting from $40 per hour, someone coming in on BILOH may just get paid $15. 
  • The CBP will now verify to see if this will impact the local US market before issuing the B1 visa at the US port of entry. This might include an B1 visa interview regarding wage levels, job duties, etc. and visa holders should be prepared with supporting documentation.
  • B1 visa does not entail the same detailed scrutiny and elaborate evaluation as that of the H1-B specialty occupation visa. For this reason, several employers opt for a B1 visa so long as the employee retains a residence in the foreign country and continued to receive a salary from the employer in their home country.
  • The filing fees for the B1 business visa is substantially lower than that of the specialty occupation H1-B visa, which is why this BILOH option will be eliminated to protect the revenue loss for the US State Department.
USCIS Fees Hike
Proposed Increase In Filing Fees
  • If finalized, the rule will not invalidate or revoke any current B1 visas that may have a BILOH annotation.

This proposal comes on the heels of a court settlement of $800,000 against Infosys Limited to resolve allegations that approximately 500 Infosys employees worked in California on Infosys-sponsored B1 visas instead of the H-1B visas in December 17, 2019.

Stay tuned to this space for the next steps if BILOH is rescinded.