The new executive order on H-1B visas signed Tuesday by President Donald Trump makes it more difficult to obtain this type of visas. High-tech foreign workers and their employers will be subject to a much closer scrutiny to avoid abuse.
The new approach outlined in the executive order requires a cooperation between the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. They will conduct a full legal analysis of all the problems negatively impacting American workers in the H-1B visa system.
It is the first step of a major reform of this visa program which will be conducted later by Congress. In the meantime, the three Departments can start tracking down and fighting abuses.
DHS is already setting better requirements for admission and will conduct inspections. DOJ will prosecute the abusers and the Department of Labor will prevent the cheap labor aspects.
It is good that the Administration is not trying to change the H-1B unilaterally but it rather involves multiple Departments. The program has many moving parts and it requires a wider group effort to bring it under control and then reform it.
Fixing Long Standing Abuses
President Donald Trump had included the reform of H-1B as one of his campaign promises and some of his electors were getting worried he might not act on it anytime soon. This is a step in the right direction for them and it is becoming again a politically charged topic.
“American workers have long called for reforms to end these visa abuses and today their calls are being answered for the first time … No one can compete with American workers when they compete on a fair and level playing field, which hasn’t happened for decades,” Trump said at an appearance in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The new rules will have to ensure that H-1B visas go only to the “most-skilled or highest-paid applicants.”
Foreign companies are already getting the message and applications for H-1B visas have dropped this month.
The application submitted for the visas to be released in 2018 were down 16% as compared to last year. USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) said that it received 199,000 applications this year as compared to 236,000 last year.
They are still far more than the 85,000 visas available for this category. Yet the decrease signals a change in strategy. Outsourcing companies are already dropping those applications they know will be refused.
As a matter of fact, the order comes too late to really affect this year’s 65,000+20,000 H-1B visa quota. The lottery that is already underway and they might just be able to catch some abuses through inspections in the field. There is still no word on the H-4 visa which allows spouses of H-1B professionals to work in the US.