US H-1B Reform Rolls
US President Donald Trump has set the wheels in motion for H-1B visa reform.
On Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order that directed federal agencies to implement a «Buy American, Hire American» strategy. The order included a section geared at immigration reform.
The order tasked four department heads (including the secretary of labor who has yet to be confirmed) to suggest reforms to ensure H-1B visas are given to the «most-skilled or highest paid» petitioners. Additionally, it asked them to propose new rules and guidance for preventing fraud and abuse of work visas, CNN reported.
Trump made it clear that he does not agree with fact that H-1Bs are currently doled out under a lottery system.
«Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery—and that›s wrong,» he said on Tuesday in Wisconsin, where he signed the order.
There›s an annual quota of 85,000 new H-1B visas (with 20,000 reserved for master›s degree holders).
Applications opened on April 3 and closed five days later. It was the fifth consecutive year that the cap was met within five days. This year, 199,000 applications were received.
It›s unclear what exactly the four agencies› department heads (state, justice, labor and homeland security) will be able to accomplish administratively and what could done through congressional legislation.
«Although released with ceremonial flair, the order will have no immediate impact on H-1Bs,» Betsy Lawrence, the director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told CNNTech.
«Many of the changes to the H-1B program contemplated by the administration would require legislative action or rulemaking and would take time to go through the necessary processes.»
H-1B visas are used to fill the US skills gap, but critics, including the Trump administration have voiced concern about abuse of the program.
In some cases, outsourcing firms flood the system with applicants, obtaining visas for foreign workers and then contracting them out to tech companies. American jobs are sometimes replaced in the process.