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Old November 4th, 2017, 11:03 AM
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Post H-1B Reform Still Lingers for Trumpís White House

H-1B Reform Still Lingers for Trumpís White House



Almost one year into Trumpís presidency, his administrationís promise of H-1B reform remains incomplete, despite the White Houseís proposals to tighten processing standards.

A bipartisan bill introduced earlier this year tried to prevent abuse of H-1B visas. But according to records, the Keeping American Jobs Act is being shuffled between committees, and now sits with the subcommittee on immigration and border security.

That progress is a lot slower than many would like. Last year, then-candidate Donald Trump said that he would end the use of H-1B ďas a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program.Ē

Rather than sweeping change, however, the past year has seen a few policy tweaks and executive orders. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) branch of the Department of Homeland Security has made renewal of an H-1B or L1 visa harder; the burden of proof for eligibility is now on the petitioner. According to the new policy, renewing a visa is much the same as getting one in the first place:

The previous policy instructed immigration officers to defer to the findings of a previously approved petition, as long as the key elements were unchanged and there was no evidence of a material error or fraud related to the prior determination. The updated policy guidance rescinds the previous policy.

Furthermore, the government may curtail a program that allows roughly 45,000 new foreign students to work in a STEM position for up to three years following graduation. This initiative, known as STEM OPT and meant as a hands-on externship (of sorts), began under President George W. Bush in 2008 and was continued by the Obama administration. That doesnít directly affect the H-1B program (in fact, STEM OPT was designed for those who couldnít obtain H-1B status), but it does show the current administration chipping away at the current immigration setup.

As the government stalls on Obamacare changes and a new tax plan, H-1B reform (a hot-button issue for many in tech) is on the back-burner. Whatever happens, itís not going to be popular among certain groups. Some feel H-1B is actually helping everyone, while others want fewer co-workers brought in from overseas. And given everything thatís going on (including the ever-growing threat of Muellerís Russia probe finding its way to the President), it seems unlikely that reform will come before the end of the year.

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