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US Immigration Reforms 2024: H-1B Lottery Changes, AI Visa, and Fee Hikes

The United States is gearing up for significant immigration reforms in 2024, particularly focusing on H-1B visas and green card backlogs. The H-1B visa reforms anticipated for the upcoming year include changes to the lottery selection process, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) planning adjustments starting March 2024. The USCIS aims to combat the issue of multiple submissions by the same individual, a practice that led to a rejection rate of over 75% for H-1B registrations in Fiscal Year 2024. The proposed update suggests selecting H-1B registrations based on unique beneficiaries rather than individual registrations, utilizing passport information to identify and eliminate duplicate entries.

H-1B Updates

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In addition to lottery changes, there is a proposal for a special visa category dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) professionals. However, critics have raised concerns about certain provisions in the Biden administration’s rule, particularly those related to the educational qualifications required for a specialty occupation. The language of the interim final rule has the potential to hinder talented foreign-born professionals, especially in the AI sector, from working in the United States.

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Moreover, USCIS has proposed substantial fee increases, including an Asylum Program Fee and hikes in H-1B Electronic Registration Fees, impacting employers filing petitions for nonimmigrant workers. The final rule, expected in April 2024 or later, could see significant cost increases for H-1B, L-1, and O-1 petitions.

Domestic Visa Renewal Pilot Program

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On a positive note, a Domestic Visa Renewal Pilot Program is set to begin on January 29, 2024, for Indians and Canadian nationals seeking H-1B visa renewal. However, this program will be limited to 20,000 visa holders and exclude dependents of H-1B professionals.

Looking ahead, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to publish a proposed rule in August 2024, aiming to modernize provisions for individuals of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors, and researchers. This rule is expected to clarify evidentiary requirements for various classifications, bringing about significant changes in employment-based immigration.

Source: Hindustan Times

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