An executive order signed by President Donald Trump in April will make it more difficult for companies to recruit low-wage international workers that the President says unfairly harm U.S. citizens looking for work.
The order, which Trump announced during a visit to Wisconsin, also directs federal agencies to carefully analyze existing rules and trade agreements to determine their effectiveness related to their requirements for purchasing American products and services.
Changes to H-1B implemented
Notably, the executive order does not end the H-1B visa program, which Trump regularly criticized while on the campaign trail. That program allows technology companies to bring in skilled workers to fill key positions. In 2016, the federal government allowed 85,000 people to enter the country to work through H-1B visas.
President Trump has argued that the H1-B program enables companies to replace American workers with foreign employees they can pay less. Officials within the Trump Administration did say that the executive order would make considerable changes to the program. Among them is a new requirement for applicants and their prospective employers to prove that visas will go only to the most highly skilled workers available. To that end, President Trump aims to eliminate what he claims is a widespread practice: tech firms using H-1B visas as a cheaper alternative to hiring American workers.
Tech executives have been vocal in their opposition to the order, arguing that the H-1B visa program is critical to their ability to find and hire skilled people.
Earlier in April, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a memo announcing that the agency will focus more of its attention on companies that have 15 percent or more of its workforce on H-1B visas. Until now, firms did not have to prove they could not find a U.S. worker to fill a position if it paid $60,000 or more per year—a number that has not been adjusted since the 1990s.
Critics say that threshold should be increased by as much as 100 percent, as many American workers would require salaries of $120,000 or more for those jobs today.
Knowing your options
The H-1B visa program is a valuable resource for businesses that need to find highly skilled talent, but are unable to fill key positions through American workers alone. This new executive order could put them in a difficult position, potentially preventing them from making the hires that will allow them to grow.
If you have questions about how adjustments to the H-1B visa program and other immigration policies could impact your company, consult a knowledgeable immigration law attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It will be important to remain up to date as changes continue to occur.
BoltNagi is a highly respected and established business law firm serving individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.