Trump administration announces steps to combat H-1B visa abuse

Tech companies are relying on the H-1B program to bring in skilled overseas employees.

The Dollar Business Bureau

The US Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced measures to prevent the fraudulent use of H-1B visas used by the American companies to bring in skilled foreign workers temporarily.

The US administration has taken several steps - such as unveiling plans to enhance transparency on applicants and issuing a warning to employers - to keep a check on H-1B visa abuse.

"These are important first steps to bring more accountability and transparency to the H1B system. The administration is considering several additional options for the president to use his existing authority to ensure federal agencies more rigorously enforce all aspects of the program," according to a White House official.

Tech companies are dependent on the H-1B program to bring in employees with special skills. These companies also lobby for an increase in the number of H-1B visas awarded.

Trump's senior adviser Stephen Miller has suggested that these H-1B foreign workers can be replaced with American workers at a less expensive salary.

In future, US Citizenship and Immigration Services agents will investigate cases where a company's basic business information cannot be validated; businesses seeking H-1B workers who work off-site; and employers having a high rate of H-1B employees when compared with US workers.

President Donald Trump, however, may take more steps to overhaul the program.

Trump had earlier promised to discontinue the lottery method for H-1B visas. This method gave each applicant an equal chance to secure visa from 65,000 positions announced each year.

The companies, mainly from the American tech sector, who depend on H-1B visas to secure overseas skilled workers, had expected the US president to tweak the lottery system in favor of the workers who were highly skilled and likely to be highly paid in the US.

The lottery system for the financial year 2018 started on Monday without changes.

The Dollar Business Bureau - Apr 04, 2017 12:00 IST