US finalises wages for H-1B visa holders
The United States has announced the finalisation of a rule that will force American employers to offer foreign workers on H-1B and similar visa programmes the same, or higher, wages as their local counterparts.
The change announced on Tuesday is intended to prevent employers from hiring low-cost foreign workers to replace Americans, which has been a key criticism of the foreign workers programme.
India, which accounts for upwards of 70% of the annual 85,000 H-1B visas granted, is a major source of such foreign workers.
Labour secretary Eugene Scalia said these measures will strengthen wage protections, address “abuses in visa programmes, and protect American workers from being undercut by cheaper foreign labour”.
“These changes help ensure that these important foreign worker programmes function as Congress intended, while securing American workers’ opportunities for stable, good-paying jobs”.
The new rule will come into effect 60 days from publication in the Federal Register, the American gazette.
Last week, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued another final rule to amend the lottery system to select H-1B applications by prioritising those for high-paying jobs.
“The H-1B temporary visa programme has been exploited and abused by employers primarily seeking to fill entry-level positions and reduce overall business costs,” USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow said last Thursday. “The current H-1B random selection process makes it difficult for businesses to plan their hiring, fails to leverage the programme to compete for the best and brightest international workforce, and has predominately resulted in the annual influx of foreign labour placed in low-wage positions at the expense of US workers.”
The Trump administration has been modifying the H-1B visa programme to make it harder for the scheme to be used to replace Americans workers with cheaper foreign workers, under “Buy American, Hire American” policy championed by outgoing President Donald Trump.