H1-B Visa Subject to Change Under the New Presidency

High Skilled workers in STEM fields can obtain H1-B Visa to gain immigration status in the US.

After watching a political campaign focused on anti-immigration, advocates of immigration restriction are now hoping that the Trump Administration will bring reformation to the H-1B visa program. The H-1B visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows companies, particularly involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to hire high skilled foreign labor. Currently capped at 85,000 visas per year, the USCIS is faced with three times more applicants than their annual limit. To regulate this demand, the highly sought after visas are currently granted through a lottery system.

New presidential administration under Trump could alter the fate of H1-B visa filing and reviewing procedures.

Throughout his campaign Trump’s stance on the visa seemed to waver a lot, from completely denouncing it to recognizing its importance. It became clear in a video address that in his first 100 days in office President Trump will prioritize immigration visa reform. Trump plans to “direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker.” The President’s choice of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, further promotes the likelihood of a change to immigration laws, as Sessions is known for his uncompromising stance on both legal and illegal immigration. Previously, Sessions has advocated ending the H-1B visa program, as he believes the visas are taking away jobs from capable STEM students who cannot find work after they graduate.

A fear among many is that too much reformation to the program could limit availability of the visas so much that it may cause companies to ship more jobs overseas. Because Trump is an opponent of outsourcing jobs to other countries, reforming the H-1B visa seems to be a reasonable alternative to address his objective to support American industries.

Washington is seeing growing support for H1-B Visa reformation suggesting that the visa could be more difficult to obtain in the future.

Support for H-1B reformation is a bipartisan issue and is gaining momentum. Earlier this month, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa introduced a bill to reduce the demand for H-1B visas by making the process more expensive and complicated for companies. Issa’s proposition would increase the required salaries to $100,000 for jobs granted through the program. Currently the required salary is $60,000. The legislation would also revoke the exemption for candidates who hold master’s degree. Issa’s intention is to ensure that the use of H-1B visa is only given to the most highly skilled workers and is not being abused as a method to undercut American workers and pay foreign nationals below American market rate. He hopes by raising the wage requirement he can increase job security for Americans. Sen. Ted Cruz also proposed a similar legislation to increase the minimum salary floor for all H-1B holders.

Democratic Rep. Zoe is in the process of proposing her own legislation to reform the H-1B visa. Her intention is to allow market forces to fix misuse of the visa system. Her bill proposal suggests to award visas to employers that offer the highest salaries. This is a deviation from the current system and of the one proposed by Issa, which both rely on a lottery system to award visas.

Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin announced a plan last week, to reintroduce a bill originally presented in 2007 with the hopes of prioritizing American workers. The bill would require that firms make a “good faith effort to recruit American workers” and would also advocate for skilled foreign nationals who studied in American universities.

Sen. Bill Nelson’s introduced bill would reduce the available amount of visas by 15,000.

While the President’s goal may be to protect American job security, it is important to understand to impact foreign labor can have on our nation’s economy. According to a report by the Partnership for a New American Economy, the H-1B’s given out between 2010 and 2013 are expected to generate more than 700,000 jobs for U.S. born workers by 2020.

Interested in finding out more? This D’Alessio Law Group blog is here to educate our readers on all work visa topics but we understand that sometimes this can create more questions. We can guide you through the steps you need to take in order to be informed about your visa options. Give our office a call at (310) 909-3934 or e-mail workvisa@dlgimmigration.com for more information so we can book you a consultation with one of our attorneys!


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