Update! The rules have been finalized. See our new post on H1B changes 2019. 

Following the H1B visa latest news 2019 is a challenge. H1B visa news is complicated, slow, and evolving. Earlier this week the Trump administration announced possible changes to the H1B visa that will affect international students, US companies that hire international students, and career services staff. Below we cover the H1B visa latest news for 2019.

It is important to state that H1B changes have not happened. Instead, these are proposals. Always get your H1B visa latest news from an official source.

H1B visa latest news 2019

One of the biggest changes to H1B may be the order of the H1B lottery. The lottery system, which was rumored to be cut, will likely stay. But preference will be given for graduate degrees over undergraduate. The San Diego Tribune summarizes it well:

Currently, the government gives out the 20,000 visas for those with U.S. graduate degrees first before allocating the 65,000 to the general pool of applicants. Under the proposed rule, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency in charge of processing the applications, would begin by awarding the 65,000 visas to the entire pool before picking out 20,000 additional applicants who have U.S. advanced degrees.

The proposed new H-1B rules favor international students with masters degrees. These changes could make it harder for undergraduates to get work in the US. If changes go into effect this year, there will be fewer opportunities for undergraduates to get hired on H-1B in 2019.
There is no update on proposed changes to OPT and OPT STEM.

How H1B news affects companies that sponsor H1B

The other big H1B change may be the H1B application process itself. The recent H1B news noted that the application process could be streamlined for employers. This would make it easier for employers to hire international talent. It is unclear from the H1B news today whether or not the changes will take affect before the April 2019 H1B lottery. Remember, companies don’t like uncertainty. The largest recipients of H-1B such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, will be able to adapt to any change to the H1B visa process. They have large legal and hiring teams. But smaller companies and firms outside of the technology industry may be less likely to sponsor H-1B until a final decision on H1B rules.

How H1B visa changes affect international students 

For all international students in the US, it’s going to remain difficult in the 2018/19 year to find companies that sponsor H-1B. US employers don’t like risk and uncertainty. The existing H-1B process is already full of risk, given that  there is no guarantee they’ll be selected in the lottery. If the new H1B changes happen before the annual H-1B lottery, it is going to make it difficult for employers to adapt. Naturally these types of changes make employers nervous. That means international students will have to work harder and longer to find jobs in the US that are even open to H-1B sponsorship. It means more rejection too.

With proposed H1B visa changes, undergraduates will have a harder time finding companies that sponsor. Undergrads will still have a chance at H-1B. Remember, an H1B visa is for specialty workers. Undergraduates need to show they are specialized. Showing employers that you are a specialized is much harder to do as an undergrad, especially without work experience.

How international students can adapt to proposed H1B visa changes in 2019

Regardless of the upcoming H-1B changes, international students will still need to market themselves as specialized workers in the US in order to get sponsored for H-1B. International students must clearly define how they’re specialized for US employment and how they help companies solve problems.

Canada for STEM international students

One possible option for international students who have in demand tech skills is Canada. Our neighbor to the North offers an easier, faster work visa process. With the introduction of Global Talent Stream, Canadian companies can hire tech workers faster and easier than in the US. Learn more about how to find jobs for foreigners in Canada.

International students still have to market themselves as specialized workers in Canada. They also still have to find companies that sponsor international students. However, the Canadian work visa process is more streamlined.

How H1B visa changes affect career services

Career services staff should check in with existing employer relationships. Check in to identify which positions inside companies are still eligible for H-1B sponsorship. Focus on creating workshops that teach students how to present themselves as specialized workers to US workers. We offer a workshop to do just that. See our career workshops for international students here.

Resources for international students looking for H1B jobs

With the H1B visa latest news 2019, the job search for international students continues to frustrate. To help navigate an H1B job search we offer plenty of resources. We are the official resource for international students in the H1B job search. Current international students can join our Facebook group.

We also offer our list of 200 companies that hire STEM OPT. Landing a job at one of those companies will get you closer to an H1B job.

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