The Trump administration has announced plans to significantly overhaul the U.S. H-1B visa program with a rule change that will force employers to pay H-1B visa workers similar wages to those earned by Americans.
Under the H-1B visa program, thousands of foreign skilled workers are able to live and work in the U.S. each year, with the visa frequently being used in the tech industry.
Addressing reporters in a press conference call on Tuesday, senior officials with the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor said new wage rules were aimed at ending abuse of the H-1B visa program and would force employers to put Americans first.
Americans, they said, are regularly being ousted from good-paying jobs and replaced by H-1B workers.
The new rules, the officials said, would help bring that to an end by raising “prevailing wage” levels to make it more difficult for employers to undercut U.S. workers.
In addition to forcing employers to pay H-1B workers similar wages to those earned by American workers, the rule changes will also see new restrictions on who can qualify for an H-1B visa.
Among those changes will be a tightened definition of what can qualify as a “specialty occupation”.
Officials acknowledged that the shift represents one of the most significant changes to the H-1B visa program in at least two decades.
The new rules is are set to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday and will go into effect in 60 days.
It is possible that legal action will be taken to prevent the rule change from coming into effect.