Obama Defends H1B Workers Against Trump’s Visa Plans

The H1B non-immigrant work visa program is once again on the political stage, as presidential leadership in the US is about to change.  As noted in other articles, President-elect Trump has stated he wants to impose restrictions on the H1B program to limit its use as a “cheap labor program.”  He has committed to putting the H1B visa issue on the agenda for his first day in office, signaling his intention to make reform a priority.

IT companies that are primarily located in Silicon Valley would be affected the most by program reform by Trump, and they have been vocal in opposing any restrictions on foreign IT workers.  The majority of H1B work visas are given to Indian IT workers, primarily through outsourcing companies.  President-elect Trump’s H1B visa plan could eliminate this avenue for granting work visas.

Obama’s Last Minute Move to Expand H1B Visa Availability

Meanwhile, President Obama is getting ready to step aside January 20th, but he is pushing forward some new regulations for the H1B program that would take effect January 17th 2017.  This will affect the new Trump H1B visa policy in some important ways.

Among the changes is an expansion of the ‘cap exempt’ category for H1B visas, which includes non-profit hospitals, as well as educational and research institutions.  Those institutions and their for-profit partners can hire an unlimited number of H1B visa workers, as long as some relationship to the non-profit is in place.

In essence, the rule change will make it easier for companies to partner with non-profits, allowing more employees to be included in the cap-exempt category.

This is significant rule change because one of the challenges of obtaining an H1B visa is making it through the annual lottery each year, where only 85,000 visas are issued to more than 230,000 applicants.  Now, a company could circumvent the lottery for H1B workers by partnering with a non-profit, and placing the position in the cap-exempt category.

The Obama-Trump H1B Visa Chess Game

For those watching the transition of power in the US, the H1B program is part of a larger chess game to preserve as much of Obama’s legacy as possible, and resist widespread changes by Trump.  Because the Obama H1B visa rule changes are administrative (not subject to Congressional approval), to reverse the new rules is a time consuming and difficult process.  It is unlikely that will be a priority for the new Trump administration, which will be focused on reforms that directly affect companies that abuse the program.

What Does This Mean for Foreign Workers Seeking H1B Visas?

As we have repeated on this blog, the best way to obtain an H1B visa is to find a cap-exempt position, since you will not have to endure the lottery or abide by the fixed annual calendar.  Now, this route is going to be easier than ever, as more for-profit companies will be permitted to use partnerships with non-profits to hire the full range of specialty occupations.  

For example, an IT worker could be hired to fulfill a role in a company that works closely with a non-profit hospital, so the job does not have to be healthcare related.  In other words, support and administrative services that qualify as ‘specialty occupations’ could be supplied by a company to their non-profit partner, but the H1B visa sponsor is the for-profit company.

We can expect companies to begin taking actions to utilize this rule change and hire more H1B visa workers under the cap-exempt category.  If you have questions about how to locate cap-exempt positions, please contact us at any time.

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  • December 6th, 2016
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13 thoughts on “Obama Defends H1B Workers Against Trump’s Visa Plans”

  1. I have the same question, how can we locate the cap- exempt positions.
    Please provide your contact information, if in case for more queries.

  2. I voted for Obama and Demicrats both times. Never again! Every year thousands of US citizen STEM graduates are unable to find work. Body shoppers like TCS, Cognizant, Wipro, Tata, InfoSys and a plethora of small so called ‘Consultancies’ that are mini versions of these behemoths like TCS etc in the USA itself that basically feed off the H1-B. All it takes to replace 10 American IT workers is one person on H-1B visa in US on $60K salary without benefits plus 9 off-shore personnel making $15K each. It’s not just about those on H-1B visa in US – the problem is that each of them is a “gateway drug” to 9 more offshore people to replace other Americans. We’re not talking about Ph.D’s – those are a small minority of the temp work force. Also, as visas are renewed after 6 years, there is estimated 800,000 H-1B and other temp work force personnel in this country replacing Americans in high quality and high paying jobs. Multiply that by 9 people off-shore, and we get over 7 million of replaced American IT, accounting, etc. workers. Congress, close the temp workers program loopholes!

    1. @Cooler ..I am holding director position in one of the best USA company (no Indian based) but with my hard work, I got selected and promoted in USA company from Manager to Director..I came on H1B (with Indian IT company) and I worked almost 60 Hours a week to make my USA employer successful.

      When I join this new USA based employer..USA citizen with same experience not ready to work that hard but I took lead to put extra efforts and smart work to get what I want.

      So temporary workers are not replacing you but you guys don;t know how to learn new technology, how to hard work..even I am now holding USA citizen..I will eventually go back to Indian to give my child good education because USA education system is just BROKEN..

      1. Just look at you Vikram: You’re definitely part of the problem. You speak in broken English, yet you are promoted to Director. Then, to add insult to injury you taunt other posters with your broken English.

        “I am holding director position in one of the best USA company (no Indian based) but with my hard work, I got selected and promoted in USA company from Manager to Director..I came on H1B (with Indian IT company) and I worked almost 60 Hours a week to make my USA employer successful.
        Let’s see – I think that you meant to say “I am a director at one of the best companies in the United States.”
        The rest of the sentence is a run on and could probably be broken up into 3 or 4 more sentences.

        I also disagree with your racist/nationalist thought that American citizens are unable or unwilling to put in the hours to be successful. I’ve spent the past 30 years in IT in America and have worked all over North America for businesses large and small. There are plenty of qualified Americans ready and willing to work hard. There are many instances where Indian hiring managers are unable or unwilling to hire someone that didn’t come from India.

        Be sure and have your facts straight before you reply. Also, make sure thatyou have someone proofread your post for grammar.

  3. Obama is only allowing the mass exploitation and racism present in the program to grow and worsen. We need smart changes that mandate and enforce full market wages for guest workers, regardless of nationality. A centralized website needs to exist for postings of jobs before any visa can be granted with at least a month allowance. The greater wage of a similarly skilled worker in the same area or company in the last few years needs to be required. A well documented effort needs to be shown to find local citizen resources at full market rates. The main reason the program gets used currently is to pay workers far less and boost executive compensation a lot. Why is anyone okay with this?

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