President Trump issued another executive order in April 2017, “Buy American and Hire American,” focusing on promoting economic and national security in the United States. It is the policy of the Administration to maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States and rigorously enforce laws regarding the entry of foreign workers into the United States. In buying American products and hiring more American workers, the President hopes to stimulate economic growth and create higher wages and employment rates for American workers.
Specifically, the executive order asks the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Labor, and Secretary of Homeland Security to suggest reforms to the H-1B visa program. The executive order focuses on the H-1B program as a potential source of fraud or abuse within the immigration system, implying that the H-1B visa program may represent more of an opportunity for fraud or abuse than other temporary worker programs. However, documented instances of fraud in the H-1B program are actually quite low, and there exists little to no evidence that H-1B workers drive down wages or replace American workers. Rather, H-1B workers cover a gap in employment and in some cases show a positive impact on overall wages. Employers do not typically hire foreign workers as a mechanism to save money, as they must provide these employees with the prevailing wage for that specific type of employment and spend additional government and legal fees throughout the application process.
Although the order states that the Administration aims to “ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries,” it does not yet provide any details on how that might be accomplished. Thus this executive order does not change any existing laws or regulations pertaining to H-1B petitions. This is not the first time we are hearing about the Trump Administration’s concerns surrounding the H-1B program, as the government also recently issued a news release detailing its intention to increase measures to detect H-1B fraud, strengthening the already existing auditing procedures. Beyond these additional measures, it is unclear how exactly the Trump Administration will attempt to modify or reform the H-1B process. As always, Dayzad Law will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that all current and future clients remain in compliance with the law as it changes.