USCIS Director Expresses Suspicion of H-1B Visas

February 02, 2018

As Congress deliberates a legislative solution for DACA recipients, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Francis Cissna criticized the H-1B high-skilled worker visa program, saying, "It shouldn't be the case that an American worker sitting in his job right now would be laid off and intentionally replaced by a foreign worker for whatever reason."  In a recent survey of HR Policy members, the vast majority of companies reported hiring H-1B workers to acquire a needed skillset, while just 1 percent reported hiring such workers to allay costs.  Regulatory changes to the H-1B program could be formally proposed as early as this month.  The Trump administration's regulatory agenda, released in December, contained proposals that could revise the types of occupations H-1B temporary worker visas cover, adjust the H-1B lottery system, and eliminate a regulation that extends to spouses of H-1B workers the authorization to seek a work permit.  Other proposed changes may include: 

  • Revising the definitions of "employment" and "employer-employee relationship" in cases involving H-1B visas in a likely bid to apply pressure to the practice of outsourcing H-1B workers to third-party clients; 
  • Overhauling the regulations governing the optional training program, which allows foreign students to work in the U.S. after graduation, in order to "reduce fraud and abuse" through means such as increased oversight; 
  • Allowing employers to preregister for the H-1B lottery; and
  • Applying new fees for visa petitions and applications.