By Morgan Rosinia, Partner |

How might the proposed changes to the H-1B visa program impact Israelis?

Proposed changes to the H-1B visa program in the United States, aimed at modernizing the specialty occupation visa, may have significant implications for Israeli professionals in emerging tech fields, including artificial intelligence (AI). The changes, currently under consideration by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, have raised concerns among employers, colleges, and policy groups.

Shift in H-1B Lottery System

One major shift involves altering the H-1B lottery system, potentially basing selection on individual workers rather than employer submissions. This aims to prevent gaming of the system and it may assist Israeli workers seeking employment with only one company.

Broadening the Definition of U.S. Employer

Additionally, one of the proposed changes would allow for a broadening of the definition of a U.S. employer to include beneficiary-owners which would allow for Israelis who own US businesses to apply for H-1B visas for themselves, so long as they still can show that they would spend at least 51% of their time on specialty occupation duties.

Redefinition of “Specialty Occupation”

Finally, the proposed rule seeks to redefine “specialty occupation,” making it more restrictive by requiring a direct relationship between the employee’s degree and the position being filled. This could pose challenges for Israeli professionals working in interdisciplinary fields like AI, where a broader range of knowledge and backgrounds is often sought by employers.

Alignment with Biden’s Executive Order on AI

Through President Biden’s recent executive order on AI, The US has emphasized the importance of foreign talent, especially in critical fields like AI. However, some of the proposed changes to the H-1B program may create unnecessary hurdles for Israeli professionals and potentially conflict with the executive order’s goals. However, other changes could be positive and help Israelis owning businesses in the US have another potential US visa option.

Please contact KTA’s US Department at to learn more about the H-1B visa.