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Goodbye lottery based H-1B visa program, hello priority?

The immigration system in the United States is currently receiving a good deal of media attention. Although many of these stories focus on recent changes to the system based on the change of administration, it is important for those applying for work visas to be aware of the many pieces of legislation that are currently under consideration.

One area of immigration law that is likely to change in the near future is the H-1B visa program. Legislation is under consideration that would replace the current lottery system used to choose applicants to this visa program with a priority based system.

How does the current H-1B visa system work? In the simplest of terms, the current system is a lottery system. This means that the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses a computer-generated random selection process to determine which applicants receive one of the coveted 65,000 available visas under the regular H-1B visa cap.

An additional 20,000 slots are available for those with advanced degrees, like a master's degree or higher.

What changes are proposed? The piece of legislation under consideration proposes a shift away from the lottery system. It proposes a priority based system with a number of factors that would result in the increased priority of certain applicants. One notable factor would be an increased priority over applications that have graduated from a U.S. based school.

Will the change in administration impact this piece of law? Although it is unclear if the change in administration will impact this law in particular, it is very likely that the change will impact the H-1B visa program in some manner.

The debate surrounding this proposal and the changes in immigration law in general highlights the evolving nature of this area of law. As a result, those who are looking to apply for an H-1B visa or any other work visa are wise to seek legal counsel. Your lawyer will review your situation and help to better ensure your application is successful.

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