One of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises is for American companies to hire more Americans instead of outsourcing jobs to countries with cheaper labor or bringing in lower-paid foreign employees. This promise includes a crackdown on a work visa program which enables thousands of skilled foreign employees to work in “specialty occupations” throughout the United States, especially the technology industry.
This month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made it more difficult for U.S. companies to hire and bring overseas tech workers to the country using the H-1B work visa. The government agency laid out new measures to combat what it considered “fraud and abuse” in the program. The Department of Justice (DOJ) also warned employers applying for the visas not to discriminate against American-born workers.
Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies, many of which were founded or run by immigrants, heavily rely on H-1B workers. They also claim that the efforts of the White House to make changes in the immigration system threaten innovation, startup formation, and recruitment.
However, outsourcing firms, such as many in the tech industry, are considered the worst abusers of the system. USCIS’s announcement targets those firms, with the government agency stating it will focus inspections on workplaces with the biggest percentage of H-1B workers, and those with employers who do IT work for other companies.
Furthermore, the new guidelines require additional information for computer programmers applying for H-1B visas to prove the jobs are complex and require more advanced knowledge and experience. It is effective immediately, so it will change how companies apply for the visas in an annual lottery process.