Trump administration targets H-1B visas through additional new reforms
By: Rebecca Anderson
The Trump administration is striking while the iron is hot, announcing additional immigration reforms. Earlier this week, the president put forth new modifications, making it extremely difficult for skilled foreign workers to acquire United States visas.
According to The Hill, the strict changes are the latest efforts by Trump and the Department of Homeland Security to publish regulations targeting H-1B visas. Visa recipients work in many different industries, with the large majority of them in the technology sector, and the visas granted to these individuals allow them to stay in the U.S. for increments of three years at a time.
“We have entered an era in which economic security is an integral part of homeland security. Put simply, economic security is homeland security,” acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement. “In response, we must do everything we can within the bounds of the law to make sure the American worker is put first.”
If unchallenged in court, the new rulings will go into effect in 60 days and would heighten requirements for businesses that hire workers from overseas.
The DHS rule will affect over one-third of H-1B petitions, and although that does not mean an automatic denial, the “vast majority of them will in fact be rejected just as a statistical matter,” according to a senior department official who spoke to The Hill.
This also comes on the heels of a ruling from a Federal judge that claimed President Trump and his administration had “overstepped” their authority after suspending issuance of specific work visas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those included H-1B, H-2B, H-4, L-1 and certain J-1 visas.
Judge Jeffrey S. White of the U.S. District Court of Northern California granted the preliminary injunction to temporarily block the implementation of the order, issued in June.
The Trump Administration justified its crackdown on foreign work visas by arguing that American workers should be prioritized amid the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
Business groups promptly filed a lawsuit over the executive order, arguing that the U.S. has benefited from temporary worker visa holders. See here.
“This last-minute action is an obvious political ploy by the Trump Administration to cover up for the fact that President Trump broke his campaign promise to crack down on H-1B abuse on the first day of his Administration,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who has previously supported legislation to overhaul the H-1B system.
Critics point to the timing of the changes so close to Election Day, arguing that the moves are politically motivated.