Breitbart’s Neil Munro reports a last-minute Obama Administration regulation will create more foreign job competition for American workers specializing in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. It would: automatically extend the work permits of H-1B guest workers while they seek permanent employment-based green cards; increase their job portability; and create a new method for non-profits to hire H-1B workers by partnering with universities. And for foreign students who work under the Optional Training Program (OPT), the regulation would extend the length of their work permits so they can seek a H-1B slot.
Under current law, H-1B visas last for three years but can be renewed for another three. The number is capped at 65,000 per year -- with quotas placed on workers from certain countries -- plus 20,000 for those with advanced degrees, irrespective of the per-country cap. But institutions of higher education (including their hospitals) and government agencies are exempt from the cap and can import an unlimited number of H-1B workers. Under the OPT program foreign students, after graduation from U.S. universities, can work for 12 months and seek a 24-month extension.
No one knows the total population of H-1B visa holders currently working in the United States since the Department of Homeland Security only publishes information on the 85,000 new recipients each year. Breitbart cites estimates of “roughly 650,000 six-year H-1B professionals, plus several hundred thousand additional foreign college graduates holding L-1, B-1 or NAFTA visas, plus at least 120,000 foreign graduates in the expanded OPT program.”
These workers are coveted by companies, universities and government agencies because they can be hired at much lower wages than American workers and college graduates, and the jobs do not have to be offered to Americans first. This regulation makes H-1B visa holders even more attractive because it allows them to continue working indefinitely instead of having to return home and wait for a green card. It allows visa holders to get a job earlier than the law provides and to change jobs. And it allows their spouses and children with “compelling circumstances” to find jobs. The regulation, if effect, maximizes flexibility for employers and visa holders at the expense of American workers and graduates.
The regulation, which takes effect on January 17, 2017, poses a challenge for President-Elect Trump who promised to “end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program.” He can immediately overturn President Obama’s executive orders and policies but regulations must be terminated through a lengthy notice-and-comment rulemaking. However, he can set a lower priority for the processing of such visas. This is what Obama did when he prioritized the processing of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants over all other immigration beneficiaries.
Read more in Breitbart News.
Updated: Thu, Dec 15th 2016 @ 5:55pm EST