Home / News / India /  No lotteries now: Here's how Trump wants to change H-1B visa system

Just after ordering suspension of H-1B visas until the end of the year, US President Donald Trump directed his administration to “reform" the H-1B visa system and move in the direction of merit-based immigration. The Trump administration is proposing a new way of awarding of 85,000 H-1B visas, awarding them by highest salary instead of by lottery. Indians are the single largest group of H1-B visa-holders accounting for nearly 74% of the work visas.

The rationale

Under these reforms, the H-1B programme will prioritise those workers who are offered the highest wage, ensuring that the highest-skilled applicants are admitted.

This move is intended to de-prioritize low-salary and low-skilled jobs that critics of the H-1B programme have long argued are being filled with foreign workers, displacing Americans, with low salaries.

Trump's best and brightest

Explaining the rationale for the proposed reforms to the H-1B visa system, the official said that last year there were 225,000 applicants for the 85,000 slots and the lottery determined who got them.

US officials claim that the move will help protect the wages of American workers and ensure that foreign labour entering our country is high skilled and does not undercut the United States labour market, the White House added.

Highest wages as the best proxy

Under these reforms, the H-1B programme is going to prioritise those workers who are offered the highest wages as the best proxy for what they bring to the table to add to the American economy, the official said.

“Up until this year, those visas have been distributed through random lottery... The president has instructed us to get rid of the lottery and replace it with ranking the salaries -- so the top 85,000 salary offers among the 225,000 or so applicants will get visas," the official said.

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