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In a significant move towards reform, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have jointly proposed a rule to revamp the H-1B specialty occupation worker program. The proposed changes, published in the Federal Register on October 23, 2023, aim to enhance the program’s efficiency, streamline eligibility requirements, and fortify integrity measures, offering a more transparent and fair selection process for both employers and foreign workers.

Proposed Changes:

  • Fairer Selection Process: One of the pivotal changes under the proposed rule involves the H-1B registration selection process. To curb fraud and misuse, the rule suggests limiting each unique individual to one entry in the H-1B lottery system. This modification eliminates the advantage gained by submitting multiple registrations for a single beneficiary, ensuring a more equitable selection process.
  • Expanded Job Opportunities:The proposed rule opens avenues for beneficiaries by allowing every registrant who submits a registration for a selected beneficiary to file an H-1B petition on their behalf. This expansion provides beneficiaries with more legitimate job opportunities and enhances their chances of securing employment in the United States.
  • Streamlined Eligibility Requirements: To provide clarity, the rule revises criteria for specialty occupation positions. It stipulates that a position may allow various degrees, emphasizing the necessity of a direct relationship between the specialty occupation and the position’s duties. This clarification ensures a more transparent understanding of eligible job roles.
  • Enhanced Program Efficiency:The proposed rule enhances program efficiency by requiring adjudicators to defer to prior determinations when no underlying facts have changed during a new petition filing. This provision streamlines the adjudication process, ensuring consistent decisions while saving time and resources for both applicants and USCIS.
  • Increased Benefits and Flexibilities:The reform extends certain exemptions to the H-1B cap, now encompassing governmental research organizations, nonprofit entities, and beneficiaries indirectly employed by qualifying organizations. Furthermore, it offers additional flexibilities to F-1 students seeking a change in their status to H-1B. Additionally, the proposed rule introduces new eligibility requirements for rising entrepreneurs, fostering innovation and economic growth.
  • Strengthened Integrity Measures:To bolster the program’s integrity, the proposed rule prohibits related entities from submitting multiple registrations for the same beneficiary. USCIS would be empowered to conduct site visits, and non-compliance with these visits could lead to petition denial or revocation. These measures are designed to reduce fraud and ensure the program’s integrity.


The proposed changes to the H-1B program represent a comprehensive effort by DHS and USCIS to modernize the system, making it fairer, more efficient, and secure. As the proposed rule enters a 60-day public comment period, stakeholders have the opportunity to provide valuable input, shaping the future landscape of the H-1B specialty occupation worker program in the United States.