Trump Administration Proposes Another Significant Change to the H-1B Program
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed rule that would fundamentally alter the way H-1B guestworkers come to the United States. The rule calls for DHS to transition away from a deeply flawed lottery system that currently allocates H-1B guestworkers to employers. In its place, DHS proposes awarding visas to prospective H-1B guestworkers based on salary, rather than at random.
In its announcement, DHS remarked that the department “would prioritize the selection of H-1B registrations based on corresponding wage levels in order to better protect the economic interests of U.S. workers, while still allowing U.S. employers to meet their personnel needs and remain globally competitive.” If finalized, this rule will significantly hinder employers’ ability to undercut American wages by increasing the overall cost required to hire an H-1B guestworker. This rule prioritizes higher-paid and better-credentialed applicants over those whose skills are average or below-average, and who truly have no right to fill a U.S.-based position.
The program faces scrutiny from both sides of the political divide, and for good reason. Research shows that the current H-1B program allows employers to pay guestworkers more than 30 percent less than American workers in the same role and with similar skills. This proposed rule will help close that gap by prioritizing higher-paid H-1B applicants for visas, greatly increasing the overall cost of retaining H-1B workers and ensuring that the program fulfills its original purpose of supplementing — rather than supplanting — the American workforce.
Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli noted that the lottery system “hurts American workers by bringing in relatively lower-paid foreign labor at the expense of the American workforce” and further clarified that “the Trump administration is continuing to deliver on its promise to protect the American worker while strengthening the economy.”
Echoing those remarks, FAIR President Dan Stein issued a statement to Fox News saying that “While there is still much to be done in terms of reforming guest worker programs, moving to a wage-based selection is yet another step in the right direction. The H-1B lottery caters to controversial body shops who flood the market, depress wages, and take jobs from qualified Americans.”
Unlike recent rules on the controversial H-1B program, this is simply a proposed rule that will not go into immediate effect. Stay tuned to FAIR for more updates.