On October 6, 2020, the Trump administration and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that new immigration regulations would be published in the coming days specifically targeting H-1B visas in an effort to protect American jobs amid mass unemployment. The new rule, which will likely take effect in December, has largely been designed to deny H-1B visas to third-party contractors that regularly provide workers to U.S. companies. According to the acting director of DHS, such contractors are known to exploit existing regulations which allow them to pay H-1B visa holders far less than they would U.S. workers.
The new rule is expected to redefine the term “specialty occupation” and increase enforcement tools available for the policing of companies that choose not to abide by the H-1B rules or cooperate with site visits. The rule will also limit the validity of H-1B visas to one (1) year for those workers placed at third-party worksites and increase the amount that H-1B workers are required to be paid. The announcement of this rule was met with criticism from trade organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who have regularly argued that the H-1B program is a necessity given the stark lack of skilled U.S. workers. Given this announcement’s proximity to the upcoming presidential election, its critics have also posited that it may be politically motivated.