April 20, 2017

Executive Order on H-1Bs

President Trump’s latest immigration-related Executive Order is titled “Buy American and Hire American.” The EO, signed April 18, directs government agencies to suggest H-1B changes to prioritize the most-skilled and highest-paid positions. The President also directs executive agencies to take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse in order to protect U.S. workers.

The EO will have no immediate impact on H-1Bs. Many of the changes to the H-1B program contemplated by the Administration would require legislative action or rulemaking and would take time to go through Congress or the Administrative Procedures Act process.

Documented instances of fraud in the H-1B and other temporary visa programs are actually quite low. Most employers that utilize the H-1B program do so honestly because they need the skills and talent of a particular worker.

Moreover, H-1B visas do not generally act as a mechanism to replace American workers. Instead, U.S. businesses use the H-1B to gain access to the sought-after skills of foreign professionals, many of whom graduate from U.S. universities. These foreign professional workers greatly benefit U.S. businesses and indirectly U.S. workers.

U.S. businesses do not seek H-1B workers in order to save money; the fees and costs associated with filing a successful petition are high enough that most employers use the H-1B because they cannot locate a qualified U.S. worker to fill the position. This is why there should be no limit or “H-1B cap.” Let the market govern H-1B usage.

For the good of our economy, our nation needs a system that better reflects the realities facing U.S. businesses today and provides flexibility and options, including an increase in permanent visas and H-1Bs.

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