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Trump Administration Tightens Scrutiny of Skilled Worker Visa Applicants (inc.com) 263

wyattstorch516 writes: The Trump administration is tightening the scrutiny on the H-1B visa program (Warning: paywalled; alternative source). Changes would undo actions by the Obama administration. There are two big regulatory changes looming that would undo actions by the Obama administration. "The first change allowed spouses of H-1B workers the right to work. That regulation is being challenged in court and the Trump administration is expected to eliminate the provision rather than defend it," reports WSJ. "The second change affects the Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreign graduates from U.S. colleges in science and technology an extra two years of work authorization, giving them time to win an H-1B visa. The Trump administration could kill that benefit or reduce the two-year window, according to people familiar with the discussions." The Journal highlights a "series of more modest changes that have added scrutiny to visa processing":

- "USCIS directed last month that adjudicators no longer pay 'deference' to past determinations for renewal applications. This means an applicant's past approval won't carry any weight if he or she applies for a renewal.

- The agency is conducting more applicant interviews, which critics say slows the system. The agency spokesman says this process will ramp up over several years and is needed to detect fraud and make accurate decisions.

- In the spring, the agency suspended premium processing, which allowed for fast-track consideration to those who paid an extra fee. This option wasn't resumed until October, meaning many workers who qualified for a coveted H-1B visa had to wait months for a decision.

- State Department officials have been told to consider that Mr. Trump's 'Buy American, Hire American' executive order directs visa programs must 'protect the interests of United States workers.' And the Foreign Affairs Manual now instructs officers to scrutinize applications of students to ensure they plan to return to their home countries. A State Department official said the official rules haven't changed but said a 'comprehensive' review is under way."
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Trump Administration Tightens Scrutiny of Skilled Worker Visa Applicants

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  • by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @08:05AM (#55593937)

    First off, it's "President Trump" and execution of his platform is pretty much what the voters expect, isn't it? Or have we come to expect less of our voted officials?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @08:18AM (#55593983)
      Actually we have come to expect less from our elected officials. In fact, we have come to expect little to nothing from them so in that respect the sitting president is overachieving.
    • Or have we come to expect less of our voted officials?

      To be fair to the people, when was the last time a politician has kept any of their promises made during the campaign trail?

      I said it last year, the scary thing about Trump was not that he may win, it's that he may not have been lying to try and do so.

    • As someone who is excruciatingly familiar with immigration services, there is a little box that is checked "this immigrant can perform the required tasks that no-one else can" (paraphrasing). This box is what is being exploited and this statement is what should be scrutinized. Basically employers are interviewing local talent, they don't want to pay that much, and then filling out the H1-B form.
    • Of course, it doesn't apply to Trump's personal businesses, as they make ample use of the TFW program, because it's cheaper to get Mexican's to do the work vs paying what American's need to eat & live in the US.

  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @08:23AM (#55594007)

    Now the POTUS needs to get the SCROTUSES that sit on the SCOTUS and interpret the COTUS for the POTUS to re-interpret the COTUS to protect American Jobs.

    Doing so will require the support of all the ROTUSES and SOTUSES of both HOTUSES and of course the GOTUSES of the SOTUS.

    If the POTUS can't do that, than why don't we just elect a cat to sit in as the POTUS.

  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @08:28AM (#55594027)

    Just in time!

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @08:30AM (#55594037)
    Trump's Mar-A-Lago gets approval to hire 70 foreign workers
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/trumps-mar-lago-approval-hire-70-foreign-workers-51041012 [go.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Not enough Americans qualified, willing and able to do the work" at the wages offered. So instead of increasing the wages, Trump promotes America First by hiring foreigners.

      Profits First for Trump. But of course this is for him and only him. Anyone else who tries this, such as the H-1B program, is subject to extra scrutiny thanks to Trump's executive order because we can't have foreigners taking our jobs if there's any possibility of an American doing the job!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @08:40AM (#55594077)

    I'm a US citizen who just took a job in Japan and the system here is that once you get your visa, you can work anyone you want to work for the duration of the visa (1 year). After that time is up, your current employer has to sponsor you. It changes the dynamic because the employer knows they can't hold onto you so they they a) only invest in someone they really want and b) do what they can to make sure you are _happy_ working for them because they don't want to have to go through the whole process again. I'm not saying the system is perfect but if the company lied to me or treats me like crap I'm perfectly free to find another job (and people do).

    The current US system is going to be abused as long as it let's employers enslave employees. Ethics aside, as an employer you'd have to be stupid to ignore a relatively cheap pool of labor that legally bound to you for the years it takes most people to get a green card.

    • Technically a H1B employee can persuade another employer to sponsor for H1B and leave the current employer.

      In practice, given the delay and the uncertainity no one does.

      Easy to change the dynamic. Make it portable. Any employer who gets approval for temporary worker for a specific job can hire a preexisting H1B without going through the lottery. An employer must demonstrate the job that is open has no eligible American applying for it. Once the government agrees either they can sponsor a new person and

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        Delay and uncertainty? Both companies have to agree and process paperwork for the H1B to leave the current employer.

        • That pretty much makes it a useless option for the employee. It gives the current employer total veto power, allowing them to continue underpaying or otherwise providing poor working conditions with no redress for the employee. If that veto power is removed, so all that is needed is a new employer, that creates a competitive environment for the visa holder, which in turn means that their presence in the job market is less likely to put downward pressure on wages.
        • Delay and uncertainty? Both companies have to agree and process paperwork for the H1B to leave the current employer.

          Wrong! Stop spreading misinformation. The only employer who needs to agree to take the H1B holder is the new employer because the new employer must file for petition. There has nothing to do with the current employer -- https://www.murthy.com/2017/04... [murthy.com]

          However, practically, as GP said, there are loop holes that the current employers may do to interrupt/retaliate the visa holder (e.g. terminate the person and thus the person loses legal status). The law does NOT protect the visa holder in the case of waitin

          • by guruevi ( 827432 )

            Hence, why I said both companies have to agree. Technically they don't but the minute the status of the H1B holder changes, the other company would know and could then retaliate which is often the end of US employment (the USCIS aren't the easiest people to deal with).

      • Technically a H1B employee can persuade another employer to sponsor for H1B and leave the current employer.

        In practice, given the delay and the uncertainity no one does.

        No one?

        Former H1B holder here. I did just this and I know plenty other people who did this.

        The real issue is the Green Card process. I had to abandon one Green Card application and start another.

        The other rely to this post is also wrong. The employer that you are leaving does not have to agree, they have no say in the matter.

    • Does Japan's declining population means they need foreign workers more than the US does? It looks like they wll need to import more and more workers over the years.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Large-ish tech company (ASIC design), headquarters in SV, but we're a satellite office elsewhere. Of maybe 40 people, I'd wager at least a third are H1B, and probably a quarter are on OTP. And we're growing and still hiring.

    We've posted and solicited all over, websites LinkedIn, colleges, etc. We just can't get very many American applications. No idea why, but we hire from the pool of applicants, so we have lots of talented H1Bs. If this goes through, our applicant pool is going to get even smaller.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @08:57AM (#55594141)

      Well you could always trying paying a decent wage. That always gets people's interest.

    • Have you tried offering more money? Maybe work with a local college to teach some courses on VHDL?

    • We've posted and solicited all over, websites LinkedIn, colleges, etc. We just can't get very many American applications. No idea why, but we hire from the pool of applicants, so we have lots of talented H1Bs. If this goes through, our applicant pool is going to get even smaller.

      I would think that would be something of value to know. Maybe not by you specifically, but I'd think the hiring managers would want to know why they can't find many local applicants. Or maybe they like it that way and don't want to know.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:25AM (#55594313)

      I'm legitimately curious as to who your company is? When I graduated with my BS, I'd specialized in ASIC design. Took every class that my university offered on the subject and did well in them. When I interviewed to get jobs in the area, I personally felt I'd aced the interviews. They never gave me a question I couldn't answer. Yet none of the firms made offers. When I asked where I went wrong and how I could improve myself, basically, why they chose not to make an offer to me I was always told "we decided to go with someone with more experience". Note the jobs I was applying for were junior level positions with no experience requirements. Eventually I landed a job in software and have been there since, though my passion was ASIC design. I now realize they were aiming for H1Bs and didn't want to hire Americans. This was circa 2005 or 2006 for reference.

    • We've posted and solicited all over, websites LinkedIn, colleges, etc. We just can't get very many American applications.

      This is a stupid argument and you should feel stupid for making it. In a just world people would surround you, point and laugh.

      In this world all that's gonna happen is someone (me, in this case) will point out that anyone with skill and talent is already employed!. So, inquiring minds want to know, exactly how much of a raise are you offering these already employed people to encourage them to move?

      (We all already know your answer, but if I can't join a crowd in surrounding you, pointing and laughing, then I

    • Need more info to comment properly. Lots of Americans don't want to work in California at all because of costs, so your comment "we're a satellite office elsewhere" may mean that the satellite office is another extremely high cost area like Los Angeles or San Francisco. You're vague about what you do, and I get that, but it may also be that your job requirements are so specific that most IT people can't meet them so you're just hiring H1Bs who claim they meet them but maybe really don't, but your company
    • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @10:44AM (#55595017) Homepage

      Right, if you're not getting applicants, it's because you're not paying them enough. My company hires H1B's too though, it's easy, it's cheap and the labor is tied to you. One of my clients actually hires "administrators" (aka secretaries/office managers) through H1B, it's easy, it's cheap and they don't have to worry about competing on wages or benefits.

      • Seriously? Then your client is part of the problem, and I hope they get audited. There is NO WAY that their "administrator" is "A specialty occupation requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or the equivalent in the specific specialty" and they where unable to find someone from the US to fill this...unless your client is out in the middle of nowhere.
        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          The problem, as I said, is wage competition. They honestly can't find anyone to be willing to work for near minimum wage without having them leave and re-train every few months. The market for jobs here is competitive, H1B is just the easy way out to get low cost workers that stay.

      • by Pulzar ( 81031 )

        Right, if you're not getting applicants, it's because you're not paying them enough.

        To all who simply say that you need to pay more to get more applicants... How many job postings (in computer engineering) do you see out there that specify how much they pay upfront? You need the applicants that pass an interview process to even start discussing compensation.

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          A lot of them do, and if they don't, I outright ask during my phone interview - before we set up an in-person interview, what is the pay scale for this position. Most hiring managers aren't too shy with telling the numbers and they understand that people have goals in mind. If you don't ask and just say yes until you get an offer, in my opinion, you're just desperate for anything which isn't a good way of starting a long term position.

    • If this goes through, our applicant pool is going to get even smaller.

      The question is, is the management is going to come to you and say,

      "We can't afford to lose any more hands. Your pay is up 50%, your hiring budget is up 50%".

      or

      "Congratulations, now you are the VP of Largish Company, India Division, please relocate to Chennai, India, And you will be a 1%ter in India, (after a 40% pay cut)".

      or

      "We regret to inform you that Largish Company, India Division, is going to do your team's job. We have eliminated the team.

    • Could it be your not getting many applications because you've set your standards too high? And could it be you're able to do that thanks to the H1-b program? Having a pool of 1.3 billion desperate people is a great way to reduce labor costs...
    • by JD-1027 ( 726234 )
      You left out the key part that we keep having to remind people about...

      "We just can't get very many American applications....at the wages we are willing to pay."
  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:09AM (#55594207)

    Immigration law is just that - law. Enforcing the law is the job of the executive branch. I see nothing wrong with enforcing the laws on the books. If you don't like the law - work with your congresscritter to change the law.

    For businesses claiming a "shortage of talent" - I want to ask one question: How many internships and apprenticeships have you sponsored? I'm not talking about running-for-coffee internships. I'm talking about partnering with one or two local engineering colleges, taking a couple of prospective grads and training them to do the highly skilled work that you want done.

    Too many businesses complain about a talent shortage, do nothing to solve the problem, and then ask for Government to solve the problem for them.

    You may like (or not like) German immigration policy - but you can not also ignore the fact that Germany integrates training for their skilled workforce into the education of that workforce - and the on-the-job training is done by the industries that need the talent.

    If you aren't doing anything to try and fix the problem, you have no right to complain about it.

    • Immigration law is just that - law. Enforcing the law is the job of the executive branch. I see nothing wrong with enforcing the laws on the books.

      That's odd. You [slashdot.org] used [slashdot.org] to [slashdot.org]. I wonder what changed...

      • Nothing changed. I support laws that excercise the constitutional authority granted to government.

        Notice how some of those posts you referenced refer to powers that the Federal government has assumed - yet are not enumerated in the constitution.

        1st post: Government providing services it has no authority to provide. I am opposed to unconstitutional laws empowering congress to provide services it has no authority to provide.

        2nd post: Making your own guns - perfectly legal and I cited an ATF regulation source

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:12AM (#55594233) Journal
    I am nursing two H1B applicants through the system. So this is from my personal knowledge. It might not be 100% correct as of today, but it was correct, at some point in the recent past.

    There are two optional practical trainings possible for students admitted to accredited US universities. Curricular Practical Training that happens before graduation. and Optional Practical Training, that happens after graduation. Both are limited to 12 months. In addition for STEM graduates, there is an additional 15 month extension to the OPT, allowing them 27 months of work permit, and if you include CPT, an F1 student can work for 39 months in USA.

    This news item seems to suggest the 15 month additional time give to STEM graduates is going to be taken away.

    I have seen the abuse of CPT and OPT. Mostly in non science fields. People enroll in a 12 month "executive MBA" programs in cheap less popular state schools, (heard of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, or University of California at Washington PA? these legit PA state schools with low fee), and game the system to work get 24 months and sometimes wangle another 15 month by showing their STEM undergrad degree from some diploma mill in India.

    On the other hand, people coming to USA, be eligible to enroll in legitimate accredited US univ, with a genuine STEM program and get the degree and get to work in USA are the good kind of immigrants/workers we Americans should seek to encourage.

    What we need to really fight is the way the body shopping Indian companies like TCS or Wipro or Infosys or their American counter parts Accenture, Syntel, iGate who game the system by claiming degrees from Indian Diploma mills to be equivalent to American Accredited university degrees. This is the abuse we should fight. Any Indian, Chinese, or any one, who struggles through GRE the way my kids do, and do a genuine Masters should be welcomed.

    But the body shopping companies have the money to spend of lawyers to game the system, and the unorganized students from foreign countries can't match them.

    Think about what we are doing here, we recruit smart people from all over the world, give them an American standard education, insight into American way of doing things, and then send them back. At the same time, we allow low quality graduates from Indian diploma mills to flood our system depressing the wages of Americans.

    Can we be more insane than this? The incredible stupidity of our system astounds me.

    I am from India, now I am an American and as American I want the next generation of me from India. Not the TCS dummies.

    • by cmdr_klarg ( 629569 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:31AM (#55594355)

      Can we be more insane than this? The incredible stupidity of our system astounds me.

      Insane? It's actually quite logical. The wealthy are making tons of money by fucking over everyone else.

      It's not stupid; the system is working as designed. It's not good for society in general, but it is operating as intended.

    • we can't fight that because it's too complex. We'll get bogged down in details and lose, just like we're doing now. End the program entirely. Admit PHD candidates and above only and have them reviewed by other PHD candidates. Then properly fund our schools with a 'College for All' program so that if American businesses want an educated workforce they have to pay for it instead of importing it. Anything else is a losing proposition for American workers.
      • PhD is too high. Already I don't see any applicants from IIT s in applying for the jobs I offer. I see a lot of interest in China and I get good resumes from there, but IITs are gone, most of NIITs from India are gone. It takes too long.

        Restricting H1B to US MS/BS alone is enough.

  • by alternative_right ( 4678499 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2017 @09:36AM (#55594375) Homepage Journal

    Americans sometimes wonder why real wages have stayed stagnant since the 1960s [pewresearch.org]. The simple answer is supply and demand: in response to the toxic effect of unions, businesses have been lobbying for us to dump more people into the workforce. This increases supply and thus reduces wages, which allows business to counter-act unions. We have been flooding the workforce since the 1960s with women, Hart-Cellar Act third world labor, illegal immigrants, H1Bs, and now digital helpers like computers and (soon) robots. Each one of these dumps cuts wages. What Trump is doing is pure business logic: he is reducing supply, increasing demand, and therefore, raising wages.

  • He’s targeting students, not companies like wipro.
  • "Trump Administration Tightens Scrutiny of Skilled Worker Visa Applicants "

    Past tense. Deed is done.

    "There are two big regulatory changes looming that would undo actions by the Obama administration...that (existing) regulation is being challenged in court "

    Future tense. Not yet done. Subject to change or revision.

  • I'd contend a lot of the success of the United States in the last 40 years has been due to acquiring all those smart folks from the other parts of the world and getting them to come here. They get settled, found American companies, hire people, and pay some level of taxes.

    Now it sounds like we're going to educate them (though they might just go elsewhere) and force them out so other countries likely will offer them perks to come and do the same. Then in 10-20 years, we're going to be asking why aren't we th

  • Canadian here.

    What I don't understand about America's immigration policy is this: If America needs a particular class of person (carpenter / developer / nurse / whatever) why doesn't America just let them immigrate to the USA? Apply for a green card, get a green card, arrive, then be on a path to citizen as an "American."

    Why all this "H1B" business and "Green Card Lotteries" and all the other nonsense?
  • I admit I'm cynical, but on paper this is a good move. I'm sure the companies who actually use the H-1B for cheap labor have some nice exceptions carved out, but signalling that the floodgates are closing might force companies to get creative about how they find and train people.

    I work for a multinational company and have worked with several on-staff H-1B workers who are quite good. The company uses The contractors that come in from the body shops (TCS, IBM, Accenture, Infosys, etc.) are quite obviously bro

  • Stupidity. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scubamage ( 727538 )
    I really wish these morons would understand that the US needs to compete in technology. And when you get to the bleeding edge of technology, the people who truly understand and are working to develop the "new things" are usually just a handful. And that handful of people rarely lives in the US. In my career, there are about 70 people around the world who work on the same technology, and the vast majority aren't American. We already have to get tons of H1B visas to compete. There simply aren't people in the
    • It would help if fucking ass-holes like you would understand that H1B Visas ARE NOT being used to employ people in very specialized niche areas, areas that cannot be filled by American workers, that require hiring workers from abroad. The positions being filled are run of the mill programmers.

      And when some startup company has a real need and a real position to fill they can't get an H1B Visas because outsourcing companies like Tata has gobbled up the H1B Visas applications.

      Not too mention there's on
    • It is wrong to rob other countries of their badly needed tech graduates. Without them, these countries will never grow and never reach the prosperity they deserve. America hogging all the educated people for itself needs to come to an end. Share the wealth.
  • The headline makes it sound like this is a done deal, but even the summary doesn't even say they're actively pushing it, they're just 'expected' to do these things.

    Talk to me when the actual number of H1-B visas handed out is reduced or when either of the two changes mentioned take affect. Until then this is all just theater. It plays well with his voters but he never actually does any of it. Anyone else remember during the election when he said he hires workers on visas for his golf courses because he
  • The federal government should do two things:

    1) Add $50K per year, per worker, to the employer's cost of hiring an H-1B. That money would go into a national "Train America" fund.

    2) Use the "Train America" fund money for two reasons:

    a) Train American citizens in skills that are in short supply in the US, and

    b) Pay the salaries of these trained people for the first year of their employment (internship, apprenticeship, entry-level employee, whatever).

    The extra $50K charge of per year, per worker would discourag

    • How about we first demonstrate there is a shortage of skilled workers. It's a canard tech companies love to throw around but the data (economic/employment) does not support it. What these companies are after is CHEAP labor. So there's a shortage of cheaper labor. That's not the same as there being a shortage of skilled labor.

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