visas

Trump Administration Warns Companies Not to Discriminate Against American Workers

The Justice Department issued a public warning to employers using the H-1B visa program to hire skilled foreign employees over American workers.

The stern message came on the same day companies rush to apply for the 85,000 new H-1B visas that will get issued this year.

"The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against US workers," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of DOJ's Civil Rights Division. "US workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims."

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer added that the administration would crack down on businesses discriminating against U.S. workers by using the visa program to hire foreigners.

With the debate heating up in Washington over the proper administration of the H-1B visa program, critics say the program is being used as a source of cheap outsourced labor, and that these warnings fall short of the sweeping reforms expected by President Trump supporters.

“The administration doesn’t want people to notice that they didn’t do anything real,” said Russ Harrison, director of government relations for IEEE-USA, an organization of American tech workers. “The president was pretty clear he was going to do something about H-1B and he didn’t.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also announced that it would step up its reviews of employers that use H-1B visas, saying "too many American workers who are qualified, willing and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged."

The H-1B requires petitioners to be in a specialty occupation, which specifies a U.S. bachelor's degree or higher. USCIS said the memo isn't a policy change, but an enforcement reminder.

President Trump had sought to “end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program.” A draft proposal that circulated in January promised to review existing work visa regulations, but an order has yet to be issued by Trump.

 

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