H-1B Applications to Open Without Rule Changes from Trump Administration

H-1B Applications to Open Without Rule Changes from Trump Administration

One of the major concerns coming from employers about the Trump administration’s approach to immigration policy is the possibility that the administration will curtail the number of H-1B visas awarded each year for employers to hire skilled talent from abroad. President Donald Trump has been a longstanding critic of the H-1B program, arguing that it lets companies replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor, and concerns have been running high that his administration would limit the number or increase the cost of these visas, restricting many employers’ access to critical talent.

These fears were compounded earlier this month when US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it was temporarily suspending premium processing for H-1Bs, but now, the Wall Street Journal reports, the next round of visa applications is opening up on Monday with no new changes to the rules of the lottery system through which they are distributed:

Changing that distribution would require a time-consuming rewrite of regulations governing the program, experts said. Given that no action was launched right away, the new administration has been expected to maintain existing rules for this year. …

Michael Short, a White House spokesman, said “reforms of the H-1B visa system are something that the administration is actively considering and working through.” Some lobbyists have been expecting Mr. Trump to announce changes to the program around now, but nothing appears to be imminent.

What is not clear is why no changes were made. Rule changes could still be in administration’s plans for 2018 and beyond, but whether because it was not as high a priority as many thought, because the White House is understaffed and lacked the people power to make the changes in time, or because of lobbying from companies worried about their business being hurt by changes to the program, for the time being it looks like business as usual for employers taking part in the upcoming round of H-1B applications.