The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

President Trump Signs Executive Order to Change H-1B Visa Rules

On April 18, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) entitled Buy American and Hire American which instructs federal agencies through the use of federal financial assistance awards and federal procurements to “maximize” the use of American goods and products (buy American) and to “rigorously enforce and administer the laws governing entry into the U.S.” in order to boost the wages and employment rates of American workers (hire American).

During the unveiling speech in Kenosha, Wisconsin, President Trump said “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.”

To fulfill the “Hire American” provision, the EO calls upon the secretary of state, the attorney general, the secretary of labor and the secretary of homeland security to propose new rules and issue new guidance to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of the U.S. immigration system by preventing fraud or abuse. Additionally, the EO focuses specifically on reforming the H-1B program so that H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.

During his speech, Trump said, “Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and that’s wrong — instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans.”

It is important to note that the EO does not create new obligations or institute any new legal requirements for employers, as the exact implications the EO will have on the H-1B program will only be known after each department conducts a full legal analysis of the existing program.

We will continue to follow this development and update members as we learn more. Stay tuned for a CUPA-HR webinar in the coming weeks.



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