The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to modernize the H-1B visa. This update is part of the agency’s 2023 regulatory agenda, which will help many applicants, particularly Indian nationals. Indian nationals would benefit the most because they already use the most significant percentage of the H-1B visas issued yearly. In addition, after modernizing the H-1B program, start-ups will have an easier time hiring workers on H-1B visas. The updated program also intends to lower fraud in the program.
The Unified Agenda, a semi-annual summary of regulations planned by federal agencies, will include the DHS’s proposals.
The DHS is primarily interested in changing its regulations concerning employer-employee relationships. New guidelines and legislation will cover workplace visits associated with petitions filed by H-1B dependent employers. These changes also address general unverified business information with commercially available data.
In some situations, the DHS proposals would also allow for increased flexibility for employment start dates. Additionally, the proposal deals with cap-gap issues, which are a problem for international students with F1 visas.
The DHS is also working to improve regulations that would make processing applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) more efficient. These applications are for non-immigrant visa holders wanting to change their immigration status and apply for either permanent U.S. residency or a green card.
The proposals the DHS plans to implement will decrease processing times, which are currently a problem for the agency and sometimes take many years. The DHS plans to use immigrant visas that are immediately available, which includes expanding the use of concurrent filing for the employment-based 4th preference category.
For now, the DHS’s rules are only proposals and will take time to implement. Earlier this year, the DHS presented a bill to change the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. The bill would significantly change the H-1B and L1 visa programs to reduce abuse and fraud, protecting U.S. visa holders and American workers. However, it remains to be seen if the proposed changes will be implemented.
For those employers who hire foreign nationals, it is necessary to complete Form I-9. Due to the complicated nature of allowing employees to present various documents and frequent regulation changes, processing Form I-9 can lead to legal disputes when filed incorrectly. The best way to ensure accurate processing of Form I-9 is by using an electronic I-9 management tool. This tool will guide hiring personnel through the entire process, thus guaranteeing the form is completed correctly and stored until it is needed.
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