Close
Visas

US H1B visa suspension expires, students free to apply

H1B visa
Now that former President Trump's executive order has expired, international graduates are welcome to apply for the H1B visa. Source: Armend Nimani/AFP

H1B visa hopefuls can breathe a sigh of relief — former President Donald Trump’s executive order banning the visa has expired on March 31, 2021. The expiration means that international students no longer have to wait for President Joe Biden to reverse the order. In fact, sources close to the president say he opted not to renew the suspension in order to restore the pipeline of skilled foreign workers.

This comes after Biden withdrew Trump’s executive order halting the issuance of green cards last month. Though Trump argued it was in the best interest of the American economy, Biden said, “To the contrary, it harms the US, including by preventing certain family members of US citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the US that utilise talent from around the world.”

H1B visa

President Biden has pledged to ease the immigration restrictions put in place by his predecessor. Source: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

Who will benefit from the return of H1B visas?

If you have graduated from a US business school — or applying to get in — this news should be music to your ears. With the H1B visa selection system now active again, US immigration is becoming more friendly to international students. Even graduates in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme apply for the H1B visa to continue working and staying in the US.

High-skilled immigrants holding the H1B visa work specific professions in the US. A large percentage of them come from India and plan to work in IT; they staff numerous Silicon Valley companies, which are welcoming the reinstated H1B visa application. The visa enables international graduates to work in the US for at least three years.

Approximately 40% of H1B visa holders transfer from the F-1 visa for international students. In 2019, USCIS approved 388,403 H1B petitions, with close to 72% of successful applicants coming from India. They consisted of 54% master’s degree holders and 66% planning to work in IT.

From March 9 onwards, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have been prioritising high earners in the H1B visa selection system. This effectively replaces the randomised lottery selection that filled 85,000 slots annually. If you want to apply for entry in 2022, check out the updated procedure.

Top scholarships in UK for international students