- The Trump administration claimed US employees were being “replaced” by overseas workers, as it unveiled tougher H-1B visa restrictions
- American firms will have to pay higher salaries for workers enrolled in the H-1B programme. The new rules also narrow the list of qualifications that make you eligible for the visa.
- US firms will have to offer jobs to US citizens before hiring foreign workers, the Department of Homeland Security said.
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The US government has announced new restrictions on H-1B visas that it claims will stop the “replacement” of US employees by skilled overseas workers.
Under a new Department of Labor rule that will come into force Thursday, American companies must pay higher salaries to workers enrolled in the H-1B program.
New Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rules will narrow the list of qualifications that make you eligible for the visa and reduce the length of visas for workers in some fields.
Ken Cuccinelli, second-in-command at the DHS, estimated the new rules would cut the number of visas by a third.
The DHS argued in a statement that more than 500,000 qualified American workers have been “displaced” by “low-cost” H-1B workers.
Full details on the proposals would follow soon, the DHS said. The DHS rules will take two months to come into force, once laid out in full.
“Real” offers to “real employees”
The new rules require US firms to make “real” offers to “real employees” — meaning Americans — before hiring foreign workers. The DHS also said it would carry out worksite inspections and monitor compliance before and after the approval of a H-1B visa.
“We must do everything we can within the bounds of the law to make sure the American worker is put first,” said acting secretary Chad Wolf in the statement, adding that the world had entered an era where “economic security is homeland security.”
Cuccinelli told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday that “companies have been incentivized to avoid hiring Americans or even lay off their own qualified, better-paid American workers and replace them with cheaper foreign labour,” per the Washington Post.
In June, the Trump administration blocked foreign workers on H-1B visas and other temporary visas from entering the country until the end of 2020. Major tech companies, such as Apple and Facebook, who rely on H-1B visas to hire many of their workers, argued that the visa ban would make the US economy less competitive.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook tweeted on June 23: “Like Apple, this nation of immigrants has always found strength in our diversity, and hope in the enduring promise of the American Dream.”
On October 1, a federal judge blocked the ban for companies that are represented by the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, and TechNet.
Around 500,000 people are currently living in the US with a H-1B visa, with a maximum of 85,000 people put on the visa programme each year.