“BUY AMERICAN, HIRE AMERICAN”: REVAMPING H-1B FOR THE GOOD OR THE BAD
On April 18, 2017 President Donald J. Trump signed the Executive Order entitled ‘Buy American, Hire American’ which has brought a whirlpool of policy changes related H-1B applicants, and has led thousands of immigrants who were in the queue of green cards being denied the status. In summary, the Executive Order calls for a review of the H-1B program and suggests changes to ensure the most skilled and highest-paid applicant receive H-1B visas. The logic behind this Order is to grant job opportunities to the American people instead of it being given to what the President perceives as less skilled H-1B candidates. The Order does not create any new specific requirements for the employers neither does it sort any remedy for the affected agencies.
Though this Executive Order may have intended that only the most skilled candidate gets H-1B, the recent actions by USCIS has framed resulted in arbitrariness by it in declining or prolonging the visa process. Nobody had ever thought that adjudicators of the USCIS would deny foreign workers who are currently in lawful visa status to continue working. However, since the Executive Order passed, the USCIS has applied various extralegal reasoning to deny work visas and green cards at its own choice and will.
The Executive Order has had a mixed response as there is a perception that the H-1B program is being misused and abused companies to gain more benefit by outsourcing the work to other foreign countries or hiring foreign skilled individuals at a lower price. The order has proposed to revise the definition of ‘employer-employee’ relationship and add new requirements which will ensure that employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B Workers.
Some of the changes that has resulted from new Executive Order are:
- The new order also proposes on the elimination of the February 2015 regulation permitting certain H-4 spouses to apply for employment authorization.
- Special Work Permits are to be ended.
- More evidences are to be requested by USCIS.
- A Policy memo that will make it tough for companies to show their H-1B Employees at third party workplaces.
- Increase in the number of visits at companies or sites that employ the highest number of H-1B Employees.
- There have been strict penalties imposed for students who over stay even if it’s a minor accidental violation.
- The Executive Order has cancelled the Obama Era Program that was meant to promote Entrepreneurs to come to US.
These changes are expected to cause quite a stir as the Trump policy changes are aimed to make it more difficult for companies to hire foreign skilled workers. Even the most skilled worker will have to go through a tough vetting process.
Some after effects by the numbers:
- There was a 41% Increase in Denials after the Executive Order in the year 2017 itself.
- After the Executive Order, 23% of the Completed Cases for Immigration required Request for Evidence.
- Indian Applicants had to go through an stricter scrutiny with 72% of their applications requiring additional evidence in the 4th Quarter of 2017 as compared to other nationalities.
The Trump era immigration policy changes have undoubtedly made it more difficult for immigrants and Companies that rely on specialized talent.