US Immigration News

How Will the New Wage-Based System for H-1B Visas Impact International Students?

2.25 minute read
"New research by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) has concluded that the new wage-based selection system for H-1B Visas will make it difficult for international students in the US to obtain the H-1B Visa. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a new policy change to prioritize high-wage earners from the H-1B Visa pool, to favor more experienced professionals in the selection process."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Jun 28, 2021
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New research by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) has concluded that the new wage-based selection system for H-1B Visas will make it difficult for international students in the US to obtain the H-1B Visa. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a new policy change to prioritize high-wage earners from the H-1B Visa pool, to favor more experienced professionals in the selection process. 

According to the research, this move will effectively incentivize study in the US after the already significant decline in enrollment of international students in US universities. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed that there has been a 72% decrease in enrollment of international students in 2020 compared to the year before. 

Applicants who are paid L-1 wages will not be considered for H-1B Visas while only half of the applicants being paid L-2 wages will be successful in gaining entry through an H-1B Visa. This is ironic since international students are generally paid L-1 and L-2 wages due to their lack of experience. Therefore, this policy will effectively make it impossible for international graduates in the US to qualify for the H-1B Visa.

How Will International Students Be Affected by This H-1B Visa Change?

Based on the data analyzed by the research, international students had a 54% chance of obtaining an H-1B Visa under the previous lottery-based system. Moreover, only 39% of the applicants who received H-1B Visas in 2018 will be able to cut in 2020 under the wage-based system.

Most recently graduated international students have Level 1 salaries, which will inevitably make them ineligible for the H-1B Visa under the wage-based system.

Even students with work experience or a Master’s degree with a level 2 salary will be affected as more than 50% of all applicants for the H-1B Visa are under this category. STEM students who have received Optical Practical Training (OPT) for 3 years will be least affected as they had a headstart on their employment compared to those in 1-year OPTs.

There are certain inequalities in the wage-based system itself. The system makes individuals employed in certain professions ineligible for an H-1B Visa even though their Level 1 salaries are higher than Level 3 salaries for other occupations. This includes individuals working as physicians, internists, pediatricians, dentists, and computer and information system managers. 

The H-1B Visa allows you to temporarily work in the US for 3 years initially. It can be extended later on. It is a dual intent visa, meaning that you can also apply for US permanent residency after a certain period. The H-1B Visa receives 40% of all applications from F-1 Visa holders, that is, international students.

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