U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a notice of proposed rulemaking that would give priority under the H-1B visa cap to foreign students with advanced degrees from U.S. universities or colleges. The measure would increase the likelihood that visa holders are better educated and decrease the chances that outsourcing companies can obtain visas for foreign-educated workers.   

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. Currently, a foreign student with a master’s or doctoral degree from a U.S. institution of higher education has a better chance of obtaining a H-1B visa because they’re eligible to participate in a lottery that gives out 20,000 visas to just such individuals. If they fail to get one, they can participate in the lottery for the remaining 65,000 visas, which are given to foreigners with either graduate or undergraduate degrees.

The rule would allow foreign students with advanced U.S. degrees to preregister for the lotteries. Outsourcing companies, which are known to flood the lottery with petitions, would only get access to H-1B visas if the 85,000 visas are not already allocated. The measure also would implement a new online registration system, and allow USCIS to temporarily suspend yearly allocations if the system has not been fully implemented.

The public will have 30 days to comment on the proposed rule change beginning today.

Read more at USCIS.

Updated: Mon, Dec 17th 2018 @ 2:40pm EST