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US Delays H-1B Visa System Overhaul, F-1 Student Protection Rules

The US has reportedly delayed the second phase of its expected H-1B visa system overhaul to the end of the year.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is gearing up to release several significant regulations, with the most anticipated being the modernisation of the H-1B programme, The Economic Times reported.

Earlier this year, the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) shifted the H-1B cap lottery to selection by beneficiary rather than registration, alongside measures to prevent fraud.

The next phase, slated for December 2024, will enhance cap-gap protections for F-1 students, revise the H-1B speciality occupation definition, expand the Fraud Detection and National Security site visit programme, and ensure USCIS adjudicators defer to prior decisions.

In April 2024, DHS extended the automatic employment authorisation for certain renewal applicants from 180 to 540 days.

This temporary rule is under review to determine if the extension should become permanent, with a decision expected by December 2024.

DHS also plans to broaden its authority to collect biometrics from noncitizens upon departure.

Current regulations limit collection to pilot programmes and certain entry points, but the upcoming December 2024 regulation will remove these restrictions and enhance photograph requirements at entry and exit.

The H-1B/L-1 border security fee is also expected to be expanded in the coming months. Currently, large employers must pay additional fees for initial H-1B or L-1 status grants or changes of employer. The new rule, set for April 2025, will extend these fees to stay extensions filed by such employers.

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Arabian Business

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