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H-1B work visa

2021 JAN 12

Preliminary   > International Relations   >   Miscellaneous   >   India-USA

Why in news?

  • Trump administration intends to make changed to H-1B visa system before his term ends.

What is H-1B work visa?

  • The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H) that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.
  • A specialty occupation requires the application of specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or the equivalent of work experience.
  • In 1952, after the US started expanding its presence in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, it felt the need to hire quality workers who could help the country achieve innovation in these areas at reasonable costs.
  • This need to hire workers paved way for the introduction of the H-1 work visa system.
  • This work visa system was further subdivided into H-1B, H-2B, L1, O1, and E1 visas, depending on the qualification required and the area for which workers were sought.
  •  Of these, the H-1B visa remains the most popular due to the relatively better wage chance it offers.

How many visas are issued?

  • Currently, every year the US administration issues 85,000 H-1B work permits.
  • Of these, 65,000 are for people with specialty occupations, while the rest are reserved for foreign workers who have earned a Master’s or a higher university degree in the US.
  • Since the number of applications for H-1B visas filed each year exceeded the 65,000 cap in the specialty occupations and 20,000 for the higher education category, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services then employed a random lottery selection of the eligible applicants to fill the 65,000 vacancies, and then moved on the fill the next 20,000.
  • This lottery system was completely randomised and did not take into account any requirements such as wages, skills or needs of the employer.

What is the new wage-based H-1B work visa regime?

  • The new wage-based work visa regime will now give priority in selection of visas to applications of those employers where the “proffered wage equals or exceeds” the prevailing level in that area of employment.
  • The proffered wage is the the wage that the employer intends to pay the beneficiary.
  • This will be done for both the 65,000 regular visas and the 20,000 advanced degree exemption visas.
  • This regime will also take into account the skill set that the respective worker brings to the country and cross check it whether such skill set is available at the same cost among the US workers.


Which of the following countries use the H-B work visa system:
(b)Saudi Arabia
(d)United Kingdom

Answer to Prelims Question