According to a leaked draft of an Executive Order the Trump administration plans to greatly scale back the numbers of H-1B visas issued and to make it more impractical for businesses to hire skilled foreign labor. The administration maintains that business are using the current H-1B system to avoid having to hire American workers and to drive down the cost of labor, particularly in high tech or information technology jobs.
The exact nature of the administration’s plans are not yet clear but from the draft executive order we can determine that there are plans to raise the “wage floor” the minimum yearly salary an employer of an H-1B immigrant must pay (currently $60,000.00 a year), limiting the number of H-1B visas wholesale, increasing the evidentiary requirements for sponsors of H-1B visa (such as requiring a job search or obtaining a full labor certification) or doing away with the current “lottery” system for awarding H-1B visa in favor of granting them to the highest paid positions only.
Unlike most of this administration’s recent executive actions there is actually a surprising amount of bipartisan support for H-1B reform including both Republican and Democratic sponsored proposals, both of which would raise the “wage floor” (to $100,000.00 and $130,000.00 respectively). Meaning that this would be a fairly easy political “win” for the administration should it choose to pursue it. This proposal is being directly opposed by many Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Facebook and others many of whom directly benefit from the program. It is also being lobbied against by India, China, Pakistan and other countries who’s citizens receive large numbers of H-1B visas.
We will continue to be monitoring these proposals in the coming weeks as new information becomes available about them.