President Trump signed a new Executive Order on April 18, 2017, two weeks after the H-1B season opened for Fiscal Year. The executive order commissions the Department of Homeland Security, to review the way the visas are processed and issued.with the goal of future H-1B visas going to highly paid, specially skilled applicants, and not foreign workers who might be paid less than their U.S. counterparts.
Here are my thoughts on the executive order:
- It’s vague, as are most executive orders signed by Trump. They espouse defining the current climate around an issue and the goals of the new directives but provide no clear path of implementation. The H-1B process/system has been under heavy scrutiny for many years and nothing has changed. Trump’s executive is just another example of the Big Bad Wolf huffing and puffing but no H-1B house will be blown down any time soon.
- They say timing is everything and timing this AFTER the H-1B lottery for this year was already conducted renders it nothing more than symbolic.
- Proposed changes are nonsensical: Trump’s idea is rewarding employers who pay top dollar for highly professional jobs to be able to hire foreign nationals. That means involving some analysis of the merits of each case, or implementing a pre-filing screening of the salaries being offered for every case. This is akin to the PERM process used for employment-based green cards, which takes a long time and involves Department of Labor. Essentially, Trump’s idea for change would add layers of complexity which require more manpower and more bureaucracy. Perhaps that is the end goal: Make employers wait so long and jump through so many hoops that they simply can’t wait anymore.
- Implementing the above change would require removing the annual cap on H-1B visas (only 85,000 per year) and perhaps removing the first Monday in April date to file petitions each year, which would lead to a year-round open process that many feel would be the fairest way of allowing employers to truly fill staffing needs year round.
- Rewarding employers willing to outbid others is designed to price employers out of the foreign professionals hiring market, but what it will actually do is price out all the young companies and startups, and only bolster the use of the H-1b visas by the big IT and tech companies. Yes, the same companies that are supposedly abusing the H-1B system, the reason cited for the need for reform. Upping the ante does not make the crooked players stop, it just makes for a table with less players at it.