Major Changes to Foreign Worker Visa Program May Deport H1B Visa Holders

Going along with Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” initiative, the latest development hints at denying extensions of H1-B visas while workers await a permanent residency card, or green card. Those skilled foreign workers who do not receive an extension of their H1 visa could be forced out of the US. As many as 50,000 tech workers in the US on an H1B visa may now face deportation under a new proposal being considered by the Trump administration.

Currently, H1-B visas can be extended up to three years for those awaiting green card approval. If permanent residency is approved, the visa can be extended indefinitely until the individual receives their green card. However, with green cards in such high demand, the process is lengthy and can take years.

In addition, the process for renewing a visa has been toughening since October. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services instructed its officers to review requests for renewal as thoroughly as they would for first-time visa applications.

According to the US Department of state, India and China accounted for 82 percent of H1-B visas in 2016: 126,692 workers from India and 21,657 from China.

The new rule is an add-on to the proposed “Protect and Grow American Jobs” bill introduced in January 2017, which “amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to revise the definition of ‘exempt H-1B nonimmigrant’ to eliminate the masters or higher degree requirement and raise the annual salary threshold requirement from $60,000 to $100,000,” according to

Essentially, the bill aims to tighten enforcement to help prevent abuse of the H1-B visa. At the same time, it also makes it more difficult for companies to hire skilled foreign workers.

If the proposed revisions are approved, it could spell hardship for major tech companies nationwide, many of which depend on H1-B workers for IT and engineering jobs. Foreign workers on H1-B visas also tend to be more affordable while offering the same level of skill as an American citizen.

In addition to tightening restrictions on H1-B visa holders, regulations are also being proposed for their spouses and dependents on H4 visas. Employment authorization documents (EADs) for H4 visa holders, which enable these individuals to work legally in the US, are now being reconsidered under the new plan.

These changes are also being made out of fear that foreign workers are taking the jobs of qualified American workers. The revised plan is expected to go before Congress this year.

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