As of 2021, it seems that not much can be done about wage levels changing at the moment for those with H-1B visas, but that does not mean that nothing will change. Those fighting for higher wages and fair equality in the workplace are going to need some extra help when it comes to their work visas. For those workers, an experienced immigration lawyer can provide invaluable help.
What is the H-1B program?
When employers in the United States seek to hire nonimmigrant staff as employees, they are searching for individuals who occupy a specialty or display exceptional ability in their field of discipline. In this case, a specialized occupation requires that the individual possesses a body of expert knowledge as well as a holding of at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The intention of this program is to aid employers who cannot acquire business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by allowing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States.
The laws related to this program institute particular standards that are meant to protect similarly employed U.S. workers from being negatively affected by the employment of nonimmigrant workers. It is also important to note that the protection of H-1B nonimmigrant workers is always top priority. In order for this program to run smoothly, all employers must agree to the Department of Labor’s requirement to pay equal wages to the H-1B nonimmigrant workers. This means that an employee’s pay rate must be equal to the actual wage paid by the employer to other workers with comparable experience and qualifications for the job in demand, or the dominant wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment, normally whichever rate is higher.
Those who apply for work visas through the H-1B program understand that if granted the opportunity, they are able to work only for the sponsoring employer; otherwise, the visa will be revoked.
What has Changed about the Application Process?
Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, there has been a significant drop in employment opportunities as well as hiring. In recent years, there has been a shift in the H-1B application process, making it extremely difficult to obtain a work visa. The main concern is centered around security. In the past 10 years, applicants have been asked to submit multiple forms of additional documentation on their H-1B applications. This requirement is resulting in a great drop in visas being obtained when this criterion cannot be met or is not deemed acceptable. The window of opportunity to straightforwardly receive a visa has seemed to have closed, and the number of those being granted visas has dropped a great deal since 2004.
How Does the H-1B Visa Lottery System Work?
The lottery system was created to focus on a group of applicants who would serve as potential workers if chosen by chance. This was a way of narrowing the selection to a smaller pool of qualified and able nonimmigrant workers. Nonetheless, this seemed to be more of an issue than an aid when selecting candidates to be granted visas.
The process of using the lottery system in attempts to choose who can and cannot be granted a visa was becoming so strict in its selection process that almost no visas were being issued. This meant that many nonimmigrants went without work or pay, and many positions were being put on hold. This led to a majority of jobs being left to Americans, and that did not seem to work out either.
How Does the Lack of Visas Affect the H-1B Program and Nonimmigrant Workers?
When large numbers of nonimmigrants were not able to acquire visas, many U.S. companies fell short of staff. Regardless of the visa granting status changing, there was still work that needed to be done, and U.S. businesses were forced to hire elsewhere rather than fill the open roles with American workers.
What are Some Results of the Delay in Updating H-1B Wage Levels?
Earlier this year, it was announced that the implementation of a rule that calls for higher wages for H-1B workers had to be delayed to November 2022. An additional delay was announced this year in order for the United States to provide a sufficient amount of time to consider legal matters and policy issues related to the rule. Currently, a transition phase of wage changes will take place in increments starting in January 2023.
This great length of time leaves the public with an opportunity to examine and submit information related to sources and methods that will determine rising wages. This will cover employees both temporary and permanent.
In recent news, larger tech companies have admitted to heavily relying on H-1B work visas because many employees are foreign students with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
An alternative strategy was suggested but has not been proved as a lead course of action at present. It appears that since workers were in such high demand, companies offered to have employees work overseas for a year if they were not picked in this year’s round of the lottery. This arrangement would be temporary for that year, and then the employee could reapply for their visa the next year.
Are There Any Changes in Updating the H-1B Visa Wages?
In the past couple of months, obtaining a work visa is slowly becoming easier. Some previous restrictions have been lifted in the application process. For example, spouses of immigrants who apply for work permits no longer need to be fingerprinted or photographed. This was causing a huge delay in granting visas and prolonging the process.
In recent news, a policy was issued that instructed immigration officers to refrain from considering prior decisions made while reviewing visa extension cases. The new rule is meant to set an increase in wages within the current four wage levels under H-1B and other programs. As of now, public comments are open for consideration while analysis takes place.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at MC Law Group, LLC Help Immigrants in Need of Visa Representation
With constantly changing policies at the federal level, it can be difficult to determine your rights and how to protect yourself and your family. The Philadelphia immigration lawyers at MC Law Group, LLC are guardians of immigrant rights as well as being very experienced in immigrant law related to green cards, visas, deportation, and citizenship. Call us at 215-496-0690 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.