US proposes electronic H-1B registration for businesses
10 March 2011
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing an electronic registration system which businesses can use to file H-1B petitions. USCIS says the new system would save firms more than $23 million dollars over the next decade.
"The proposed electronic system would minimize administrative burdens and expenses related to the H-1B petition process including reducing the need for employers to submit petitions for which visas would not be available under the statutory visa cap," USCIS said in a statement.
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The United States H-1B program allows US companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations in sectors including but not limited to IT, the physical sciences, mathematics, architecture, and engineering. Under the current rules, the US Government issues 65,000 H-1B visas annually.
USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced a 60-day comment period starting on 3 March 2011. Employers and the general public may provide input on the proposed electronic registration process to "ensure it best meets the needs of employers that rely on H-1B visas to bring in foreign workers for specialty occupations."
"The proposed rule would create a more efficient and cost-effective process for businesses interested in bringing workers in specialty occupations to the United States," Mayorkas said. "Improving the H-1B petition process is part of USCIS's ongoing efforts to leverage new ideas and innovation to streamline our operations and enhance customer service."
Under the proposed rule, employers could electronically register an H-1B petition for a skilled foreign worker in as little as thirty minutes.
"Before the petition filing period begins, USCIS would select the number of registrations predicted to exhaust all available visas. Employers would then file petitions only for the selected registrations," USCIS said.
Presumably, this would save employers the effort of lodging H-1B applications for workers who are unable to obtain visas due to the visa cap having been reached. This is an especially big problem when the US economy is doing well; In some years all H-1B visas are used up within a few days. You will next be able to apply for an H-1B visa from 1 April 2011 to start work in October 2011.