President Trump Issues Executive Order to Review H-1B Program
On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed a new Executive Order, "Buy American and Hire American." In the "Hire American" portion of the order, Trump announced he was directing DOL, DOJ, DHS, and DOS to review the current laws governing the H-1B program and suggest changes to prioritize the most skilled and highest paid positions. The President also indicated he was directing federal agencies to review all visa programs and take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse in order to protect US workers.
Although it was signed with ceremonial flair, the Executive Order 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 the necessary processes.
Though additional measures to combat fraud could be implemented more quickly, 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 and because they need the skills and talent of a particular worker, and those who don't can be rooted out by the current anti-fraud provisions and programs.
In addition, contrary to the administration’s rhetoric, H-1B visas do not generally act as a mechanism to replace American workers. Instead, US businesses use H-1B to access the sought-after skills of foreign professionals, many of whom graduate from US universities. These workers greatly benefit US businesses and our economy.