07 October 2020 00:41
Some critics suggested that the changes, which came less than a month before the presidential election, were politically motivated. "Why this, why now, and why is it an interim final rule?" asked Theresa Cardinal Brown, the director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. "There's no estimate of the amount of jobs this would actually free up for U.S. workers. It's a bank shot at best." The Labor Department rule, which takes effect upon publication, would increase wages across the board for foreign workers, based on surveys of salaries in each profession. Companies would have to pay entry-level workers in the program in the 45th percentile of their profession's salary rather than the 17th percentile.
Wages for higher-skilled workers would rise to the 95th percentile, up from the 67th percentile. "It will also likely result in higher personnel costs for some employers," according to the Labor Department rule. "The purpose of protecting U.S. workers outweighs such interests and justifies such increased costs," the agency added. But Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School, said the rule would have the "opposite effect." "By increasing the required wages, the new rules will harm all employers trying to hire foreign workers, but especially start-up companies and smaller firms who may not be able to meet the increased wage requirements," he said. The Department of Homeland Security's rule, which takes effect in 60 days, would also tighten the eligibility for visa applicants.
The rule would require the foreign workers to have a degree in the "specialty occupation" they apply for, rather than any college degree. Some would also need to show how their studies provided "a body of highly specialized knowledge" for a potential job in the United States. (CNN) The Trump administration is tightening up an employment-based visa program that allows highly skilled foreign workers to come to the United States, arguing the changes are necessary following shocks to the labor market caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that they will release regulations targeting H-1B visas intended for highly skilled workers--an employment-based visa used in part by large tech companies to bring in workers. It's the second time this year that such visas have taken a hit. Over the summer, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation placing limits on H-1B visas, among others, through the end of the year. The latest actions by the administration are part of a concerted effort to roll back the visas available to people overseas as a result of high unemployment in the US resulting from the pandemic. They're also in line with the administration's attempts to curb legal immigration to the country. "We have entered an era in which economic security is an integral part of homeland security. Put simply, economic security is homeland security. In response, we must do everything we can within the bounds of the law to make sure the American worker is put first," acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia echoed Wolf in a separate statement, saying that his department is "strengthening wage protections, addressing abuses in these visa programs, and ensuring American workers are not undercut by cheaper foreign labor." The new rules will take effect in short order. Tech companies are among those that use the H-1B program to bring in thousands of skilled foreign workers. Executives of those companies have denounced the Trump administration's efforts to curb visas, underscoring the contributions of immigrants. Sarah Pierce, policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, noted that reforms to the visa program are necessary, but severe curtailing of the program can have wide-ranging effects. "There are legitimate concerns about the use of this visa to replace US workers, but in trying to address that issue, this administration is really hurting all companies that depend on H-1B workers. Not only those who employ the H-1B workers but also those that benefit from that labor," Pierce said.