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Immigration Law

Expert: New H-1B Visa Rules "Will Harm All Employers"

Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Miriam Jordan, New York Times, Oct. 6, 2020

"The Trump administration announced significant changes on Tuesday to the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers, substantially raising the wages that U.S. companies must pay foreign hires and narrowing eligibility criteria for applicants. ... The changes will be published this week as interim final rules, meaning that the agency believes it has “good cause” to claim exemption from the normal requirement to obtain feedback from the public before completing them. Immigration lawyers and experts predicted that the changes would be swiftly challenged in court because they bypassed the normal regulatory process. ... The Labor Department rule, which takes effect upon publication, would increase wages across the board for foreign workers, based on surveys of salaries in each profession. Companies would have to pay entry-level workers in the program in the 45th percentile of their profession’s salary rather than the 17th percentile. Wages for higher-skilled workers would rise to the 95th percentile from the 67th percentile. “It will also likely result in higher personnel costs for some employers,” according to the Labor Department rule. “The purpose of protecting U.S. workers outweighs such interests and justifies such increased costs,” the agency added. But Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School, said the rule would have the opposite effect. “By increasing the required wages, the new rules will harm all employers trying to hire foreign workers, but especially start-up companies and smaller firms who may not be able to meet the increased wage requirements,” he said."