US unveils tightened H-1B visa rules in a move to put Americans first

The United States on Tuesday unveiled its new rules for H-1B visas – the immigration visas used widely by technology firms, especially to hire skilled workers from India. The new rules are much stricter and are aimed at creating more opportunities for American workers.

Photo courtesy: Pride Immigration
Photo courtesy: Pride Immigration

Under the new regulations, the definition of “specialty occupation” will be narrowed by closing the overbroad definition that "allowed companies to game the system", according to the Department of Homeland Security.

They will also require companies to make real offers to real employees, by closing loopholes and preventing the displacement of the American workers. And lastly, the new rules would enhance the department’s ability to enforce compliance through worksite inspections and monitor compliance before, during and after an H1-B petition is approved.

As per the Department of Homeland Security, the interim final rule to be published in Federal Register will be effective in 60 days.

These changes will strengthen foreign worker programmes and secure American workers’ opportunities for stable, good-paying jobs, US Secretary of Labour Eugene Scalia said. 

The US Department of Labour is strengthening wage protections, addressing abuses in these visa programmes and ensuring American workers are not undercut by cheaper foreign labour, she added.

The Department of Homeland Security has stated that the H-1B programme, which was intended to allow employers to fill gaps in their workforce and remain competitive in the global economy, has now expanded far beyond that, often to the detriment of US workers.

They have cited data that reportedly shows that more than half-a-million H-1B non-immigrants in the United States have been used to displace US workers.

The H-1B visas for highly skilled workers allow up to 85,000 immigrants annually. The move by the Donald Trump administration is aimed at tightening immigration.