The Trump administration plans to make it harder for US companies to hire foreign workers on H-1B non-immigrant short-term visas, by narrowing the definition of “speciality” occupation and raising minimum wages for the employees.
Both measures are intended to ensure American workers were not displaced or denied jobs because of cheaper foreign workers. Critics of the H-1B programme argue that US companies are hiring foreign workers to displace American ones, and that they are not highly skilled as they ought to be. More than 70% of these H-1B visas go to Indians hired by US companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, and US subsidiaries of Indian IT companies such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS.
Office of Management and Budget of the White House has posted a notice on its website saying a review was under way of H-1B and other visas, but no details were available.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told Reuters news agency that these measures will be “utterly transformative” and will ensure there is “no market for someone to drive back down wages on H-1Bs to displace American workers”.
The administration would expect to have them in place for maximum impact before elections on November 3. Reuters reported that these measures were being fast-tracked and the final bunch of orders could also include restriction on international students.
The H-1B visa programme has been on the crosshairs of the Trump administration from the beginning and it has been changed and altered incrementally since, through executive orders. It was suspended temporarily in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure Americans had the first shot at jobs that were becoming available from the lockdown. The president has also suspended all immigration till December.