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Apprenticeship program may be funded by higher visa fees

Increased fees for H-1B visas could be used to pay for apprentice programs for people in Florida and across the United States. The budget for the 2020 fiscal year includes $160 million for the Department of Labor to expand apprenticeship programs that began in 2018. However, it is unclear if the proposed budget will look the same as the one that is eventually passed.

There are some who would like to see the H-1B visa program scrapped entirely, but that would likely face resistance. In 2020, the H-1B visa cap was hit in a matter of days, and this has been the case in previous years as well. Therefore, increased fees to fund domestic programs may be among the best available compromises. Each year, 85,000 visas are granted with applicants being placed in a general pool of 65,000 and a master's cap pool of 20,000.

Under a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proposal, all applicants would be placed in the general pool. Currently, those with advanced degrees are put in the master's cap pool, which may make it harder for companies to get workers with advanced skills. Putting those with advanced degrees in the general pool help the system work better for companies and for the economy overall.

The H-1B visa may provide an opportunity for immigrants to obtain legal status in the United States. As long as the visa is valid, individuals can typically work and live in the country. In some cases, it may be possible to apply for permanent resident status after the H-1B visa expires. An attorney may be able to review a case in an effort to help an immigrant stay in the country legally.

Source: Dice, "Boosted H-1B Fees Could Pay for American STEM Training", Nick Kolakowski, May 13, 2019

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