On October 6, the US Department of Homeland Security issued an announcement to further tighten the issuance of H-1B visas and increase the minimum salary standard for visa applications, which may affect more than one-third of H-1B visa applications.
In June, the Trump administration announced a suspension of H-1B, H-2B, L and J nonimmigrant work visas, sparking outrage and boycotts, including from the U.S. tech community. Since then, the U.S. government has continued to tighten visa policies.
On October 6, the US Department of Homeland Security issued an interim final rule (IFR) further tightening the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program. The announcement said the move is designed to protect American workers, restore the integrity of the H-1B visa program, and further ensure that only qualified H-1B applicants are approved. Undersecretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli said the new rule will affect more than one-third of H-1B visa applications.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security explained in the announcement why and what the policy is about:
The H-1B program was originally designed to help employers fill labor gaps and remain competitive in the global economy, but now the program has gone far beyond its original purpose to the detriment of American workers. The data shows that more than half a million H-1B visa holders in the United States replaced American workers. This has led to wage reductions in several industries in the U.S. labor market, and wage stagnation in some specific jobs. The recent policy on H-1B visas is part of the Trump administration’s efforts to protect American workers.
“Economic security is a major component of homeland security today,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. “In short, economic security is homeland security. Therefore, we must implement all Workers come first. DHS is honored to take this important step to put Americans first and continue to help deliver President Trump’s agenda of economic security.”
The rule would combat low-cost hiring of H-1B labor to replace qualified U.S. workers.
The new rule:
narrowed the definition of “specialty occupation” to avoid general definitions;
Requiring companies to make “real” offers to “real employees,” closing loopholes and preventing H-1B holders from replacing the U.S. workforce;
Mandatory implementation through workplace inspections and supervision before, during and after H1-B visa approval.
This interim final rule will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will cancel the regular notice and comment period to immediately ensure that hiring H-1B holders does not exacerbate the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and does not affect wages and working conditions for American workers .
Under the new regulations, the minimum wage for employers applying for H-1B visas for low-level jobs will be raised from the 17th percentile to the 45th percentile of the current industry salary range, while H-1B visas for high-skilled jobs The 1B minimum salary scale will be raised from the 67th percentile to the 95th percentile of the current industry salary range. (Note: The percentile is a set of data sorted from small to large, and the 50th percentile is the median.)
Who is the H1B visa given to?
There are many types of visas in the United States, sorted alphabetically from AZ, and issued to different groups of people. The H1B visa is for Specialty Occupations/Temporary Worker Visas, which is a type of work visa provided by the United States for the introduction of foreign professional and technical personnel.
H1B is a non-immigrant visa issued to employees of foreign nationality with professional skills employed by U.S. companies. Applicants must have certain professional theoretical and practical knowledge, and have completed professional courses in higher education, and must be guaranteed by a US employer. Foreigners with H1B visas can work in the United States for up to 6 years. If a green card application is not made 365 days before this status expires, the visa applicant must be outside the continental United States for at least 365 days before reapplying for an H-1B visa.
According to statistics, three-quarters of the H-1B visas in the United States are used in the technology industry, and the current Google CEO Sundar Pichai also took the H1 visa when he worked at McKinsey.
Statistics from the American Immigration Council show that 39% of software engineers, 27% of computer programmers, and 28% of electrical engineering jobs in the United States are foreign immigrants; while the proportion in California is even higher, 42% of skilled jobs are immigrants. .
Based on these data, current US President Trump has been accusing foreign workers of using H-1B work visas to take away high-paying jobs from American workers, so new policies have been introduced to tighten H-1B issuance conditions and crack down on US companies. The enthusiasm of overseas talents to apply for H1B.
In terms of ethnicity, Indian applicants make up the majority of H-1B visas. Data from the U.S. Immigration Service last year showed that 583,000 H1B visa holders currently work in the United States, of which 70 percent are of Indian descent and 15 percent are of Chinese descent. In 2019, the US government received 421,276 H1B visa applications, of which 313,944, or 74.5%, were from India and 11.8% from China.
The ever-tightening H-1B visa policy has made it harder for these people to find employment in the United States. Some people say that the H-1B visa has not taken away American job opportunities, but has made the United States a stronger economy by paying taxes and spending on tourism.
As mentioned earlier, under the new regulations, the minimum wage for employers applying for H-1B visas for low-level jobs is already close to the median (50th percentile), while high-skilled jobs are at the exaggerated 95th percentile. That means freshly graduated, inexperienced job seekers need to earn the median salary to get an H-1B visa, while high-level job seekers need to be in the top 5% of salary to stay in the U.S.
The visa tightening will also hit outsourcing companies to a certain extent. Over the past few years, thousands of H-1B visas have gone to outsourcing companies that specialize in outsourcing U.S. jobs offshore, putting U.S. workers at a competitive disadvantage.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin believes that Trump is only fulfilling his promise to crack down on the abuse of H-1B at the beginning of his presidency to win more votes for the upcoming election.
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