The H-1B visa program has long been a primary method for employers to bring foreign workers to the US to legally work in their businesses. The program distributes 85,000 visas annually to employees who work in “specialty occupations” (including biotechnology, architecture, engineering, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, and the arts, among others) and who meet the requirements for the visa, which include a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and a license to practice in the area, if necessary. Changes may be coming to the H-1B visa program, as the new Trump Administration has indicated it would like to introduce rules which “prioritize” certain applicants over others.

The Possible Changes to the H-1B System

In a leaked memo obtained by the news site Vox, the Trump administration reportedly is seeking to take steps which would:
  • Prioritize “the interests of American workers” over foreign workers;
  • Limit the ability of spouses of H-1B workers to receive visas;
  • “Restore the integrity of employment-based nonimmigrant worker programs…;” and
  • “Consider ways” to change the H-1B program to make it “more efficient and ensure that beneficiaries of the program are the best and brightest.”
  These points are no doubt vague in what they might mean for employers and employees going forward, but other leaked memos obtained by Vox relating to immigration turned out to be nearly word-for-word counterparts to actual executive orders issued by the Trump administration in its first week, and thus should be taken seriously. The full memo is here.

What Does This Mean for Employers?

What we can take from this, however, is that it would appear that obtaining an H-1B visa will become more challenging and that stricter application requirements will apply, for example increased evidence to show that a foreign worker is among “the best and brightest” in a given field.   With that in mind, employers should not hesitate to take action in working with an experienced immigration attorney sooner rather than later to assess strategic approaches they can take to secure the immigration statuses of needed workers in light of a changing political landscape.

Southern California Immigration Attorneys On Your Side

At the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth, we represent businesses and individuals in immigration matters across Southern California. Our diverse legal team is multilingual and we have offices across the region. Contact us today for a confidential consultation regarding your legal questions relating to immigration or any other issue.