Trump to Sign Order Calling for H-1B Visa Reforms
Visa petitions for high-skilled foreign workers decline for first time in 3 years
By Roy Maurer
Apr 18, 2017 - SHRM
President Donald Trump will sign an executive order today, directing federal
agencies to review the H-1B visa program for foreign high-skilled guest workers,
according to news reports.
Trump will sign the order during a trip to Kenosha, Wis., where he will tour
the headquarters of Snap-on-Tools and deliver a speech about U.S.
Administration officials told reporters that the order will assess guest
worker visa programs, including he H-1B program, set up strict enforcement
of U.S. procurement preferences, and address trade treaty
renegotiations. According to news reports, the executive order directs
federal agencies to more strictly enforce H1-B visa laws and proposes reforms to
the program to prevent fraud and abuse and ensure visas are awarded to the
Advocates of the H-1B visa program argue that access to foreign talent is
needed to fill the U.S. skills gap, but critics, including the Trump
administration, say that the program needs to be reformed to quell abuses such
as foreign outsourcing firms flooding the system with applicants and sometimes
replacing U.S. jobs.
H-1B filing season began this year with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) announcing a "more targeted approach" in visiting the
workplaces of H-1B petitioners.
Petitions FallUSCIS announced April 17 that
the number of H-1B visa petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2018 fell below 200,000
this year for the first time since 2014.
The agency received 199,000 H-1B
petitions during the filing period this year, far surpassing the statutory cap
of 85,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2018. In 2016, USCIS received 236,000 visa
A computer-generated random selection process was used to
select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000
cap under the advanced degree exemption.
USCIS conducted the selection
process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree
petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000
The agency will now begin the process of sending receipt notices for
petitions selected in the lottery while rejecting and returning petitions,
together with the associated filing fees, that were not selected in the
"Under our outmoded immigration system, U.S. employers are
losing ground in the highly competitive global talent marketplace and a random
lottery for H-1B visas does not help," said Lynn Shotwell, executive director of
the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI). "The world of work has changed
dramatically since the H-1B program was last reformed almost 20 years ago.
Modernization is the only option if we want to give America the competitive
Last year, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
reported that 68 percent of HR professionals surveyed are experiencing
difficulty recruiting candidates for full-time positions, with science and
technology fields being the most difficult high-skilled positions to
"H-1B visas can be a vital tool for employers to access top global talent,
drive innovation and spur economic growth, creating more jobs for U.S. workers,"
Shotwell said. "As the reform debate moves forward, we must advance a system
that is innovative, fair and competitive for employers and employees. We should
embrace solutions that reflect market demand and prioritize visas for employers
who invest in U.S. workers."