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How Will Trump's Buy American/Hire American Policy Affect H1-B Visas?

President Trump recently unveiled a new immigration policy that he hopes to implement via executive order. "The Buy American, Hire American" executive order is expected to be signed in the near future. Specifics of the plan are vague at this point, but some general ideas are becoming more apparent.

H1-B Visas Are A Pipeline For Educated Workers From Abroad

One of the possible major points of impact could be to the way in which H1-B visas are awarded. H1-B visas are used by businesses to bring highly talented workers from abroad. There are minimum education requirements for workers who would enter the U.S. on an H1-B. Workers are required to have highly specialized knowledge along with, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree. Of the 85,000 H1-B visas offered this year, 20,000 were earmarked for workers with at least a Master's degree.

At this point, the "The Buy American, Hire American" executive order suggest that different departments of the government such as the Departments of State, Labor, Justice, and Homeland Security develop reforms to the H1-B program independently.

Possible Changes To The H1-B Visa Lottery

White House officials have cited goals such as redesigning the way in which the visas are awarded. Currently, H1-Bs are awarded via a lottery. The administration apparently hopes to move to a system that favors higher-skilled positions with higher wages. The idea of raising fees has been floated as well as a means of protecting jobs for domestic workers.

What Does This All Mean For Business Owners Looking For The Most Talented Workers?

At this point, the "The Buy American, Hire American" executive order appears to be more of a suggestion than anything that creates substantive changes to the way H1-B visas are handled. While keeping the process as is for now protects the business community against the added costs of adapting to a changed immigration environment, there is still elevated uncertainty and that is never good for business.

Consult with an experienced immigration attorney any time you have questions about the current state of our immigration system and how it might impact your situation.

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