The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to enacting more regulation that limits H-1B visa qualifiers. As part of the proposed regulation titled “Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program,” the DHS aims to redefine specialty occupation in an attempt to exclude a large percentage of occupations that are currently eligible for H-1B visas.
USCIS will no longer give deference to previously approved H-1B visa petitions and will treat H-1B visa extensions as NEW applications to evaluate eligibility. For this reason, any change to the current specialty occupation criteria may negatively affect thousands of high-skill immigrants currently working in the United States by rendering many ineligible for an extension while they are in the queue for their green card priority date.
Redefining specialty occupation to include achievement beyond a qualifying degree will arbitrarily complicate the process and drain employer resources. Furthermore, if the revised definition focuses too narrowly on the degree title and overlooks the individual’s specialized body of knowledge, it may completely neglect the U.S. employers’ needs in a competitive labor market.