Darius Amiri, Rose Law Group immigration department chair, is upbeat about H-1B visa program changes aimed at stopping applicants from gaming lottery

By Michelle Hackman | Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration is proposing major changes to the H-1B visa program for high-skilled foreign professionals, after the government found earlier this year that companies had colluded to try to increase their chances of winning a coveted visa.

The proposal, published by the Department of Homeland Security in the Federal Register on Monday, would revise how the H-1B visa lottery is run.

Right now, applicants who have an eligible job offer in the U.S. but need a visa to start working can submit an entry into the lottery, and at the end of that entry window, roughly 85,000 visa recipients are selected at random. In recent years, though, the government found evidence that individual applicants were submitting as many as 10 entries into the lottery to increase their chances of winning. Many of those applicants, moreover, were being sponsored by the same handful of small, little-known tech companies.

The growth in this practice was so rapid that entries to the lottery last year hit more than 780,000, up from 270,000 three years earlier, when the new application process took effect.


“The proposed changes to the current way the H-1B lottery is conducted would be welcomed.

The H-1B visa is a temporary work visa that is available to foreign born workers occupying a specialty occupation (typically requiring a college degree or equivalent) that is conducted via a lottery system each year. Because there are hundreds of thousands more applicants than visa allotments, many employers have been trying to take advantage the lottery system by submitting multiple registrations for the same candidate.

One of the proposed changes is that each individual would only be entered into the lottery once, regardless of how many registrations were submitted on their behalf, in an attempt to equalize or level the playing field for small business or individual employers against bad actors trying to game the system.”

-Darius Amiri, Rose Law Group immigration department chair

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October 2023