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Proposal to Overhaul H-1B Visa Program Under White House Review

Sept. 4, 2020, 2:05 PM

A proposed rule that would amend which jobs qualify for high-skilled H-1B visas, and how U.S, Citizenship and Immigration Services will define an employment relationship, is one step closer to publication.

The Department of Homeland Security, which houses the agency that adjudicates immigration benefits, submitted the regulation Thursday to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, according to an online posting.

Review by the White House regulatory office is typically the last step before a federal agency releases a regulation to the public for comments.

The proposal, which has appeared in each of the Trump administration’s regulatory agendas since fall 2017, aims to revise the definition of what is considered an H-1B visa specialty occupation and the definition of an employer-employee relationship within the program.

The H-1B visa program has been a target of President Donald Trump since he was elected. The goal of the revisions to the visa program is to create a merit-based system for non-immigrant workers, prioritizing visas for individuals who have been offered the highest wages, senior administration officials said on a call with reporters in June.

The proposed changes will “increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program” and “better protect U.S. workers and wages,” according to a description of the rule.

The proposed rule also would add requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders.

Work Permit Changes

The Department of Homeland Security submitted an additional proposal for White House review Thursday.

According to its description in the Spring 2020 regulatory agenda, the agency is proposing to eliminate eligibility for employment authorization for certain individuals who have final orders of removal but are temporarily released from custody on an order of supervision with limited exceptions.

DHS said it will also make other proposals to the eligibility and factors the agency will consider when adjudicating discretionary work authorization applications filed by people who have been convicted of an aggravated felony or who have committed violent or dangerous crimes.

Representatives for USCIS and DHS didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on when the proposed rules will be published.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at; Andrew Harris at