President Donald Trump can use executive orders to modify some phases of the program without Congressional approval, such as how eligibility rules are enforced, & the program is determined.
A few days ago, Vox.com announced 6 leaked draft executive orders that involved one directly impacting the H-1B visa program. 2 other draft orders published on Vox were lately signed by Donald Trump, with no changes from the drafts. You can see all of the draft executive orders on the Vox site, http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/25/14390106/leaked-drafts-trump-immigrants-executive-order. However, we will review the main objects of the order for you.
Draft Executive Order: “Protecting American Jobs & Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs.”
The draft order includes the following plans (emphasis combined is ours):
- Calls for “an investigation of the extent of injury to US workers caused by the employment in the United States of foreign workers admitted under the non-immigrant visa programs.”
- Requests the Department of Homeland Security to “consider ways to make the process for allocating H1B visas more efficient and ensure that beneficiaries of the program are the best and brightest.”
- The plan will call for a raise in site visits for enforcement of work visa rules, starting with the L-1 visa (for transfers) & applied to H-1B visas within 2 years.
- Orders a survey of the OPT program to “prevent disadvantaging of United States students in the work force…”
- May reduce the span of OPT work visas
- Questions DHS to “improve monitoring of foreign students.”
- May cancel the ability of H1B workers’ spouses to apply for H4 work visas
- A report of how tourist and business visas are employed for labor purposes. (1 outsourcing firm was fined millions of dollars for bringing part time workers to the United States on short-term business visas.)
- Orders DHS to detail on the number of foreigners working in the US.
What Does This Order Mean for H-1B Visa Holders & Applicants?
If all of these objects are involved in an executive order signed by the President Donald Trump, it can have an effect on both current H-1B visa holders as well as those regarding applying. It does seem to target the abuse of the H-1B program to replace United States workers and to develop some priority system for awarding visas based on skills and ability. It is not good news for outsourcing firms that pay lower wages to workers that are contracted out to United States companies.
The order does point toward an H-1B visa program that is leaner & structured to only award visas to foreign workers with fairly specialized skills that cannot be found in the United States workforce. The reference to the OPT program is shocking, & the concern is that United States students may be disadvantaged in seeking employment if a competing international student is given the job preferably.
It does mirror many of the early Trump presidency policies on immigration, which apparently are putting American jobs and businesses ahead of any foreign interests. We will be watching with interest to see if this order is signed anytime soon, and then bring you a full analysis of the possible impact on securing visas.
There remains the possibility that an administrative order could alter this year’s lottery system, but we recommend that you proceed to seek sponsors & positions that match your skills & experience.