2020 was the year that saw new rules introduced by the Trump administration with the specific intent of restricting the H-1B visa program. These new regulations were an effort to restrict candidates for this nonimmigrant visa program to specialists: those working in occupations that require advanced skills, education, and training.
On Oct. 6, 2020, both the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security made announcements that there would be two final rules in the interim. What this essentially boiled down to was more limitations to these types of visas. These new rules also raised the required minimum wage by a substantial amount, while at the same time limiting both prospective employers and employees from being eligible for an H-1B visa.
The wage rule from the Department of Licensing became effective on Oct. 8; the Department of Homeland Security’s new rules and restrictions went into effect later that year on Dec. 7. It’s likely that these tightened immigration laws are currently affecting about one-third of H-1B candidates.
New restrictions face strong opposition
Both these rules received a barrage of legal challenges as soon as it was possible to do so. A California federal judge blocked both rules on Dec.1. The judge’s ruling cited the fact that Trump’s administration lacked “good cause” in issuing this change to immigration law without any comment period nor notice.
On Nov. 2 of that year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced their proposition to add yet another restriction to this already fraught visa process. The USCIS’s idea is to use a salary-based ranking process to determine who is awarded their H-1B visa, to replace the lottery system that’s already in place.
Applying for an H-1B visa may seem like a daunting process, particularly with the new wave of restrictions. But with an understanding of the rules, it is possible to navigate the process and secure your legal status in the United States.