How the New Merit-Based System is Overhauling the H-1B Visa

If you’ve been following global immigration news, you’ve heard of the merit-based system implemented in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Recently, Canada made headlines when they added this system to their government, and now, America may be next in line. This point-based immigration system bypasses the H-1B lottery system that has been called into question as flawed. Instead, foreign nationals are granted entry into the US based on their unique skills through a Tier 1 or Tier 2 category. How will this system change the H-1B visa path? Keep reading to find out.

Uncertainty on the Immigration Path

While most people agree that the H-1B system as it currently is needs significant changes, how that is to happen isn’t as unanimous. The Biden Administration is trying to make the path to immigration easier, including opening safety measures for illegal immigrants. 

However, the merit-based program was instituted by the Trump Administration, and it not only has many proponents in America but also has a solid precedent because of the other countries that have implemented the system. Canada’s less-restrictive policy was so popular the open visas were filled nearly overnight, taking many of America’s top talents with it.

Understanding Merit-Based Immigration

Whether you agree with it or not, merit-based immigration is already a “thing” and will likely continue growing. The fiasco behind FY2023’s H-1B lottery selection and the abundance of attempted fraud make the holes in this system unignorable, and the focus is on Canada and its successful point-based entry as a possible solution.

Under this system, foreign nationals who might have originally filed for an H-1B visa would instead enter America if they can prove they have impressive skills that give them “points.” Those with the highest criteria met would have first access to the available H-1B visas.

For instance, younger professionals would receive more points than older individuals under the premise that they would contribute more socially. Those with valuable skills and advanced degrees would receive extra points. Someone with a job offer already in place would get more points.

This point system is already in place and working well in other countries, where it not only helps to ensure the top talent receives the visas but also helps prevent arguments of discrimination against color, race, and gender.

Using Merit-Based Points

Under the systems currently in use in Australia, which is considered the ideal model, those who have acquired a minimum number of points can state their interest in a visa. From there, their skills and eligibility are reviewed and accepted based on the government's priority market requirements.

In the Senate, the proposed bill has two tiers. Tier 1 discusses highly skilled workers, while Tier 2 handles low-to-medium skilled workers. Each tier would receive 50% of the visas available, and anything leftover would remain unclaimed and carry over to the next year.

Foreign nationals would express their interest via an application once they have a sufficient number of points (with a maximum attainable of 100). Those applications would be weighted to include more than just skills. They would also be scaled based on their age, experience, language abilities, and teamwork.

Since the tiers would clearly stipulate how points are earned, there would be no hidden ways to gain extra weights for your application and no “random” aspects involved. 

What’s Next?

While this system has worked well in the past, the proposed legislation still needs work. In the meantime, employers and foreign workers wishing to obtain a visa in the US should still continue their current course of action. Our professional legal experts at Visa2US are available to guide your steps and help you understand what your best options are based on your needs and unique situation. Contact us today to see how we can help you meet your next career goals.

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.