Trump Administration To Force Employers To Pay H-1B Visa Workers Similar Wages To Americans

The Trump administration has announced plans to significantly overhaul the U.S. H-1B visa program with a rule change that will force employers to pay H-1B visa workers similar wages to those earned by Americans.

Under the H-1B visa program, thousands of foreign skilled workers are able to live and work in the U.S. each year, with the visa frequently being used in the tech industry.

Addressing reporters in a press conference call on Tuesday, senior officials with the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor said new wage rules were aimed at ending abuse of the H-1B visa program and would force employers to put Americans first.

Americans, they said, are regularly being ousted from good-paying jobs and replaced by H-1B workers.

The new rules, the officials said, would help bring that to an end by raising “prevailing  wage” levels to make it more difficult for employers to undercut U.S. workers.

In addition to forcing employers to pay H-1B workers similar wages to those earned by American workers, the rule changes will also see new restrictions enforced on who can qualify for an H-1B visa, as well as for how long.

Among those changes will be a tightened definition of what qualifies as a “specialty occupation”.

The new rules will also see a 1-year maximum validity period enforced for beneficiaries working at third-party worksites.

Officials acknowledged that the shift represents one of the most significant changes to the H-1B visa program in at least two decades.

“The U.S. Department of Labor is strengthening wage protections, addressing abuses in these visa programs, and ensuring American workers are not undercut by cheaper foreign labor,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia in a statement released on Tuesday. “These changes will strengthen our foreign worker programs and secure American workers’ opportunities for stable, good-paying jobs.”

In a separate statement, DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said the U.S. has “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,” Wolf said.

“The Department of Homeland Security is honored to take this important step toward putting Americans first and to continue to implement President Trump’s agenda to keep our economy secure,” he added.

The new rules is are set to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday and will go into effect in 60 days.

It is possible that legal action will be taken to prevent the rule change from coming into effect.

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