H-1B visas: Ahead of the US Presidential Elections 2020, President Donald Trump’s administration is trying to tighten the norms and make it harder for US companies to hire employees from abroad before the end of 2020. This, according to officials cited by news agency Reuters, would lead to preservation of jobs for American nationals as the country deals with severe blow to employment due to the coronavirus pandemic. The officials also said that the decision would be politically difficult to reverse, the report said.
The White House budget office is racing against time to review a fast-track regulation to narrow the definition of “specialty occupation” that is eligible under the H-1B programme for getting a skilled-worker visa, the report said, citing the website of the budget office and administration officials. Apart from this, another fast-track regulation that the officials are aiming to review just in time would raise the wages that the employers must pay to show that foreign workers would not be displacing American workers in the same geographic area and occupation.
The administration is aiming to review these regulations before the country goes into re-election on November 3. Immigration has been a major focus of the Trump administration since he took over the highest US office in January 2016, and Donald Trump, who is running for a second term, seems to hope that these regulations might sway voters in his favour. Notably, immigration is also his focus during this election campaign as he competes against Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, who has previously served twice as Vice-President to former US President Barack Obama.
The report stated that apart from these regulations, the Trump administration also has a plan to put an end to visas for international students and journalists, and all these measures could collectively act as his last moves on the issue of immigration before the country goes to vote.
While experts say that the last-minute changes could be vulnerable to challenges in court or even possible reversal if Joe Biden comes to power, the report stated that White House senior adviser Stephen Miller said the changes and new policies would have popular support. Miller has been the architect of the immigration agenda in the administration, the report stated.
In an interview, Miller said that the measures were utterly transformative and said that there would be no market for anyone to drive back down the wages on H-1Bs in order to displace the American workers.
In June, Trump had issued an order blocking the entry of several temporary workers from abroad, and had said that the move was necessary for the preservation of jobs for Americans. The administration was then sued by the US Chamber of Commerce, the largest business association in the US, which had said that such regulations could lead to employers facing unnecessary hurdles.