DHS department heads are drafting a “Buy American, Hire American” proposal that would prevent H-1B visa extensions beyond the six-year limit. If implemented, the proposed regulations would likely stop more than 100,000 foreign workers with pending green card applications from keeping their H-1B visas beyond the allowed two three-year terms, creating job opportunities for higher-skilled Americans.

The administration is reviewing the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act, which currently allows for the granting of extensions to H-1B visas holders, in order to determine whether or not the language of the provision can be reinterpreted to stop making the extensions.

“The agency is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President’s 'Buy American, Hire American' Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment-based visa programs,” Jonathan Withington, chief of media relations for USCIS said.

While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle debate ways to reform the H-1B reform program, the administration is actively taking measures to further its “Buy American, Hire American” agenda. The Trump administration has already announced plans to end work permits for spouses of H-1B holders and is considering changes to prioritize the allocation of H-1B visas to more highly educated and skilled workers.

Though some American employers insist the annual cap on H-1B visas is too low and stress a “need” for more foreign tech workers, due to a supposed lack of high-skilled American workers, abuse of the H-1B program by U.S. companies is an increasing problem and Americans are being replaced by thousands of foreign workers. Disney, one such company, became known for inflicting this kind of abuse when it laid off its American employees and forced them to train their foreign replacements as a condition of receiving severance payments.

Pres. Trump took action against this problem last April when he signed an executive order calling for a review of the H-1B program in order to suggest changes that would grant H-1B visas only to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants. These changes, if made, would eliminate the temptation for employers to hire cheaper foreign labor over Americans.

“This historic action declares that the policy of our government is to aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job. It's America first, you better believe it,” Trump said in the announcement.

The H-1B visa is usually issued anywhere from three to six years to an employer seeking to hire a foreign worker. But if an H-1B holder has already begun the green card application process, they will often times renew their work visa indefinitely.

Read more on this story from the McClatchy DC Bureau.

H-1B visas
High-skilled Americans

Updated: Wed, Jan 17th 2018 @ 9:55am EST