How Immigrant Workers Are Struggling to Get H-1B Visas Under Trump

Does Your Family Live Outside the U.S.? Here’s What You Need to Know to Get Them Here.
March 1, 2019
Show all

How Immigrant Workers Are Struggling to Get H-1B Visas Under Trump

Many U.S. companies, including those in the technology sector, depend on highly skilled immigrant workers. In turn, many of those workers depend on H-1B visas, designed to allow non-citizens with specialized education and training to stay and work in the U.S. Unfortunately, the current administration has made changes to the H-1B application process that seem to belie this administration’s statements that it supports bringing highly skilled workers into the U.S.

struggling to get H-1B visas under Trump

The process changes include additional evidentiary requirements to prove that the worker requesting the visa is actually “highly skilled.” In addition, while there was a previous “premium processing” option to fast-track H-1B visa applications, that option was suspended until late January when U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services reinstated it.

Processing time was as fast as two weeks; it’s now taking some applicants several months to get a response. According to a recent analysis conducted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the number of H-1B visa applications submitted has decreased at the same time processing time has increased by 96 percent since 2014, and 46 percent over the two most recent fiscal years.

In addition, the manner and order in which applications are processed is also changing. The annual cap on H-1B visas is 85,000, of which 20,000 are awarded to applicants who have earned their master’s degrees or higher. Beginning in April 2019, applicants without advanced degrees will have their applications processed first, before those with advanced degrees. Citizen and Immigration Services believes this means more people with advanced degrees will actually benefit from H-1B visas than under the current system where advanced degree-holders’ applications receive first processing. However, this is likely to increase – perhaps significantly – wait times for those highly educated workers.

The Trump administration, and President Trump himself, has touted these changes as helping “encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.,” recent applicants, those in the system, and the employers who depend on skilled foreign workers are struggling.

For a more detailed look at this problem, check out this recent LA Times article. If you need help understanding your rights and options, contact us today!