The U.S. government has introduced new criteria to make it more challenging to hire international workers on the nonimmigrant H-1B visas.
On 6th October, the DHS (U.S. Department of Homeland Security) announced new rules that would narrow the definition of “speciality occupation” and reduce the period of H-1B visas for workers located in third party sites to one year, from three years before.
The new rules, according to the government, “will combat the use of H-1B workers to serve as a low-cost replacement for otherwise qualified American workers.” and the government stated they will go into effect within 60 days.
While announcing the interim final rule (IFR), the DHS said it will strengthen “the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program to protect U.S. workers,” restore “integrity to the H-1B program” and better guarantee “that H-1B petitions are approved only for qualified beneficiaries and petitioners.”
The DHS said by narrowing the definition of “speciality occupation,” as originally intended by Congress, it would prevent companies from exploiting the system.
The new measures will need “companies to make ‘real’ offers to ‘real employees,’ by closing loopholes and preventing the displacement of the American worker” and enhance “DHS’s ability to enforce compliance through worksite inspections and monitor compliance before, during, and after an H1-B petition is approved.”
Secretary Chad Wolf said in an announcement that the United States of America has “entered an era in which economic security is an integral part of” national security. “Put simply, economic security is homeland security. In response, we must do everything we can within the bounds of the law to make sure the American worker is put first,” he said. “The Department of Homeland Security is honoured to take this important step toward putting Americans first and to continue to implement President Trump’s agenda to keep our economy secure.”
For the new rules, the DHS is removing the traditional practice of allowing the citizens to comment on a new rule before it is instilled. The agency said this was done to “ensure that employing H-1B workers will not worsen the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and adversely affect wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.” The new measures will almost certainly be disputed.
Critics of the administration’s immigration policy were quick to denounce the new rule. “Many opponents of the H-1B visa seek to pit native-born workers against their foreign-born colleagues,” the American Immigration Council tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. “In reality, workers do not necessarily compete against each other for a fixed number of jobs.”
It is not clear how the new rule will affect foreign workers who are already in the United States on H-1B.