Over the two years of his presidency Donald Trump has either initiated or proposed sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration laws. One proposed change has many in the tech industry more than a little worried. The program that he is considering changing is the H-1B Visa program which allows educated, foreign born professionals to work in “specialty occupations” that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. Trump has announced that he is “reviewing” the program. Let’s take a look at the program and some basic facts about it that many Americans may not know.
What is the H-1B Visa?
As we have said, the H-1B Visa allows certain foreigners to say for a short period (3 – 6 years) and work in the employ of an American business. It was created in 1990 and is available for only about 65,000 people with B.S. degrees and an additional 20,000 additional visas for foreign professionals who graduate with a master’s degree or doctorate from a U.S. institution of higher learning. As a condition of being granted an H1-B Visa, the employer petitioning the government for this document must swear that hiring said foreign born worker will not adversely affect the jobs of native born Americans. Employers must also inform their native born employees of their intention to hire an H1-B worker.
Facts about the H-1B Visa
- Since 2001, half of all H-1B Visas have been awarded to Indian nationals who went on to work in the tech industry.
- Evidence shows that H-1B Visa workers do not drive down wages despite beliefs to the contrary
- Since 2005, H-1B visas have been capped at 65,000 a year, plus an additional 20,000 visas for foreigners with a graduate degree from a U.S. academic institution.
- More than half of all H-1B visa approvals in fiscal 2013 went to employers in four states. California (17.7%), New Jersey (14.0%), Texas (12.2%) and New York (7.2%)
All indications are that the current administration will adopt a zero tolerance policy for even small errors made during the application process. This is in keeping with the president’s attacks on immigrants, asylum seekers and other persons not born in the US. Because of these changes, immigration attorneys are expecting the rejection rate for H-1B Visas to sharply rise in the coming year. As someone who is a skilled immigration attorney in Van Nuys, I will continue to keep abreast of changes in the laws that could affect both documented and undocumented immigrants. Immigration rights in Los Angeles has grown to be particularly challenging over the past two years but my office is up to the challenge.