New immigration restrictions are changing the U.S. labor market, and the popular H-1B program is no exception.
The employer-coveted program lets U.S. companies hire highly skilled foreign nationals when no American labor is available. The program is highly popular in the health care, technology and engineering fields, which often face highly skilled labor shortages. In fact, American demand for H-1B laborers almost always exceeds the number of visas available in any given year.
Nevertheless, the government recently proposed changes to this highly competitive visa program. Some of the changes, which take effect Dec. 7, include:
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) also published an interim final rule that will change the computation of prevailing wage levels. The new computations will result in higher prevailing wages for all occupations for each Occupational Employment Statistics-based wage level. The increase percentages are as follows:
The new prevailing wages took effect Oct. 8. However, a group of technology consulting firms are challenging the rule through a lawsuit that was filed in New Jersey federal court last Friday. The lawsuit alleges that the DOL failed to adhere to procedural requirements before implementing the rule. It also maintains that the DOL relied on wrong data and economic assumptions for its justification for implementing the rule, which raises minimum salaries by as high as 50% in some industries.
Additional litigation from the business and higher education community challenging these restrictions is expected. U.S. businesses and institutions who rely on H-1B laborers must quickly adapt to this new landscape before filing petitions.
Please contact Brandon Davis, Laura N. Buck or any other member of Phelps’ Immigration team if you have any questions or need compliance advice and guidance. For more information related to COVID-19, visit Phelps’ COVID-19: Client Resource Portal.