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H-1B Visa New Rules Waive In-Person Interviews, Lottery System to Stay; Details Here

H-1B Visa New Rules: The United States has recently announced that it is going to waive the the in-person interview requirement for a range of visa applicants during the entire year in 2022, including for H-1B workers and students. In this regard, one many note that India accounts for a huge chink of H-1B visa applicants. The decision was announced by the US State Department a day back amid the Covid-19 pandemic situation. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The State Department also announced that consular offices will now be authorised.

“The Department of State recognizes the positive impact of temporary work visa holders on the U.S. economy and is committed to facilitating nonimmigrant travel and reducing visa wait times. We are pleased to announce that consular officers are now temporarily authorized, through December 31, 2022, to waive in-person interviews for certain individual petition-based nonimmigrant work visas and their qualifying derivatives in the following categories: Persons in Specialty Occupations (H-1B visas), Trainee or Special Education Visitors (H-3 visas), Intracompany Transferees (L visas), Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O visas), Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers (P visas), and Participants in International Cultural Exchange Programs (Q visas),” said the US State Department in a press release.

Additionally, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has extended consular officers’ current ability to waive the in-person interview, through December 31, 2022, for the following other categories of nonimmigrant visas: Temporary Agricultural and Non-agricultural Workers (H-2 visas), Students (F and M visas), and Student Exchange Visitors (Academic J visas), the press release said. Embassies and consulates may still require an in-person interview on a case-by-case basis and dependent upon local conditions. Applicants should check embassy and consulate websites for more detailed information about this development, as well as current operating status and services, it said.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the Department’s visa processing capacity. As global travel rebounds, the US is taking these temporary steps to further commitment to safely and efficiently reduce visa wait times while maintaining national security as our priority, it added.

The Joe Biden government is yet to implement easier H-1B visa rules that it had promised when it got elected. However, time and again, the US President has indicated that he would make the rules come into effect soon, which has resulted in an increase of the visa application.

The new authorisation also applies to temporary workers applying for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas who meet certain conditions, including that they are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence, the press release said.

On Monday, the US Homeland Department had announced that it has withdrawn its proposal of making changes in the H-1B visa selection criteria. Under the proposed rule, the US had plans to change the current lottery-based selection process to a wage-based process — which had shown rays of hope to the Indian IT sector.

However, a US District Court for the Northern District of California vacated the rule, following which the plan was changed.

“The Department of Homeland Security has published a final rule that withdraws the Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions final rule, also known as the H-1B Selection Final Rule, issued Jan. 8, 2021. That rule was vacated by the US District Court for the Northern District of California,” said the US Citizenship and Immigration Services in a note.

(With agency inputs)

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