What to Expect from the New H-1B Bill of 2018?

The Immigration Innovation Act of 2018 that has been introduced to the Congress seems to be leaning in favor of the employed, immigrant population. The Bill is yet to be passed but is very much approved by Corporate America, especially the tech-giants of Silicon Valley who have more than 71% of their workforce from the immigrant sector. While the Act essentially ensures their access to the world’s best, it also addresses the prevention of potential abuse of the H-1B visa program. Below are some of the salient features from the Immigration Innovation Bill

  • Merit based immigration: Applicants who are qualified for technical and specialized occupations will get preference to come to the US for jobs.
  • Total Cap: The annual cap for H1-B visas to increase from 65,000 to 85,000.
  • Salary: The base salary to go up to 100,000 from the current 60,000.
  • Favor the highly educated: The bill uncaps the numerical limitation for applicants with a Master’s degree or higher. This is currently set at 20,000.
  • Job Mobility: If the H1-B holder has applied for a Green Card, he will be allowed to change jobs and still retain his place in the green card queue.
  • Priority for STEM: The bill prioritizes adjudication of applicants who hold US master’s degrees or higher, holders of foreign PhDs and holders of US STEM bachelor degrees.
  • H4-EAD: Spouses of valid H1-B visa holders will be able to apply for jobs.
  • Grace Period: A grace period is allotted for those H-1B holders who would like to change jobs and still remain within the valid legal status.
  • Conditional green Card: The bill proposes sponsorship separate from H-1B for university-educated foreign professionals.
  • F1 students: Students on F1 visa and during OPT are granted permanent resident status.
  • Employer Penalty: Employers are expected to employ the H1-B worker within three months for the granting of the visa or incur a penalty.
  • Hiked Fees: The proposed increase in H1-B visa fees to go towards state-administered grants to promote STEM education and worker training.
  • Country limit: The bill eliminates annual per-country limit for employment-based green cards and adjusts per-country caps for family-based green cards.
  • Spouses Exempt: The bill exempts spouses and children of employment-based green card holders, holders of US STEM master’s degrees or higher, and certain individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts and sciences from worldwide numerical caps on employment-based green cards.