American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) President William Stock shares insights on the potential impact President Trump’s 4/18/17 Executive Order that requires a full review of the employment-based visa programs and singles out the H-1B program for particular scrutiny.
- On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed a new Executive Order, "Buy American and Hire American." In the "Hire American" portion of the order, Trump announced he was directing DOL, DOJ, DHS, and DOS to review the current laws governing the H-1B program and suggest changes to prioritize the most skilled and highest paid positions. The President also indicated he was directing federal agencies to review all visa programs and take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse in order to protect U.S. workers.
- Although it was signed with ceremonial flair, the Executive Order will have no immediate impact on H-1Bs. Many of the changes to the H-1B program contemplated by the Administration would require legislative action or rulemaking and would take time to go through the necessary processes.
- Though additional measures to combat fraud could be implemented more quickly, documented instances of fraud in the H-1B and other temporary visa programs are actually quite low. Most employers that utilize the H-1B program do so honestly and because they need the skills and talent of a particular worker, and those who don't can be rooted out by the current anti-fraud provisions and programs.
- In addition, contrary to the recent rhetoric, H-1B visas do not generally act as a mechanism to replace American workers. Instead, U.S. businesses use the H-1B to gain access to the sought-after skills of foreign professionals, many of whom graduate from U.S. universities, to complement the U.S. workforce. These foreign professional workers greatly benefit U.S. businesses, U.S. workers, and the economy.
- H-1B visas do not drive down wages for American workers. In fact, some studies show a positive impact on overall wages. On average, H-1B workers actually earn higher wages than similarly employed U.S workers.
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