May 22, 2024

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Lottery bids for skilled worker visas in the US have declined after changes aimed at fraud and abuse

Lottery bids for skilled worker visas in the US have declined after changes aimed at fraud and abuse

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Lottery bids for highly-educated worker visas are down nearly 40% this year, authorities said Tuesday, claiming success against people who were “gaming the system” by submitting multiple, sometimes questionable, applications. To increase their chances of being selected unfairly.

Big tech companies that use H-1B visas sought changes after massive increases in bidding reduced their employees and potential employees' chances of winning a random lottery. Confront what you admitted Potential for fraud and abuseUSCIS said this year that each employee has only one chance in the lottery, whether a person has one job offer or 50.

The government received 470,342 entries for this year's lottery, held in the last week of March, down 38% from 758,994 entries last year. The number of workers who applied changed little — about 442,000 this year compared to 446,000 last year — indicating a sharp decline in the number of people who applied multiple times.

Bids tripled from 2021 to 2023 after the government said it would no longer ask people to mail in bulky papers to be eligible for the lottery, saying the expensive and time-consuming task could wait until they win one of up to 85. A thousand opportunities are given annually. The only requirement was an electronic registration fee of $10, which lowered barriers to participation but created an unintended opportunity for businesses and employees to flood the agency with applications. One person submitted offers for 83 job offers in 2022, USCIS said.

The decline in applications this year “indicates that there are significantly fewer attempts to gain an unfair advantage than in previous years,” USCIS said in a memo to companies, applicants and their representatives.

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H-1B visas were created in 1990 for people with a bachelor's degree or higher in hard-to-fill fields, especially science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Critics say it allows companies to pay lower wages with fewer protections for workers.

Infosys, an Indian technology outsourcing company, was the largest employer of H-1B people in 2023. Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Meta, and Google rounded out the top 10.

US college graduates can work for three years under a visual internship visa while trying to obtain an H1-B visa. Because these applicants had established jobs, they did not need to submit more than one offer. But that left them at a disadvantage against those with multiple applications. Some left to work in Canada or Europe.

USCIS Director Or Jado said the agency rushed to reform the lottery to make sure each worker had “only one ticket in the hat,” and decided change couldn't wait another year. USCIS found that some companies work together to submit bids to the same applicants.

“We want to make sure it's in the hands of people who are going to use it and help the nation, and we realized that gaming the system wasn't beneficial to anyone,” Gado said at a public event in March at the university. South by Southwest Festival In Austin, Texas.

Many technology companies and business groups have pushed for immediate change. Intel Corporation Its win rate “has steadily declined, hampering efforts to expand semiconductor design and manufacturing efforts in the United States,” it said in October.

“A system intended to help manage the H1B lottery process has instead become a source of frustration and disappointment,” the chip maker wrote to USCIS.

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H-1B critics generally welcomed the changes but called them insufficient.

The AFL-CIO wrote to USCIS that changing this year's lottery “includes some steps in the right direction, but falls short of the comprehensive reforms needed.” Like other critics, the labor group wants the visas to be awarded to companies that pay the highest wages instead of a random lottery, a change sought by Donald Trump while in the White House.