New Delhi, June 23, 2020.
US President Donald Trump has directed his administration to “reform” the H-1B visa system and move in the direction of merit-based immigration, White House officials have said.
“Moving to a merit-based immigration system,” the White House said in a statement soon after Trump issued a proclamation to temporarily suspend H-1B and other work visas till the end of the year. The Trump Administration will reform the immigration system to prioritise the highest-skilled workers and protect American jobs, it said.
Under these reforms, the H-1B programme will prioritise those workers who are offered the highest wage, ensuring that the highest-skilled applicants are admitted, the White House said.
The Trump Administration will also close loopholes that have allowed employers in the US to replace American workers with low-cost foreign labour, it said.
These reforms will help protect the wages of American workers and ensure that foreign labour entering our country is high skilled and does not undercut the United States labour market, the White House added.
“The more permanent actions that he is directing us to take include reforming the H-1B system to move in the direction of a more merit-based system. You hear the president talk all the time about getting the best and the brightest, and you also hear him talking about protecting American jobs. So, these reforms will do both,” a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call.
Under these reforms, the H-1B programme is going to prioritise those workers who are offered the highest wages as the best proxy for what they bring to the table to add to the American economy, the official said.
Noting that there is a cap on H-1B visas of 85,000 every year, the official said that last year, 2,25,000 applications were received for those visas.
“Up until this year, those visas have been distributed through random lottery… The president has instructed us to get rid of the lottery and replace it with ranking the salaries — so the top 85,000 salary offers among the 225,000 or so applicants will get visas,” the official said.