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Fox Business
Fox Business
21 Oct 2023


The Biden administration this week rolled out its proposals to reform the H-1B visa program, which has faced accusations for years that it is being abused by Big Tech companies to undercut American workers.

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday announced proposed rulemaking that would streamline eligibility requirements, provide flexibility for employers and workers and combat against fraud and abuse.

The H-1B program allows the employment temporarily for foreign nationals in specialty occupations. However, it is predominantly used by the tech industry, primarily for nationals from India and China. In FY 2021 Amazon had the most approved petitions, with Google, IBM and Microsoft among the top petitioners.

Alejandro Mayorkas

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to discuss security threats 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 on Capitol Hill in ((Greg Nash/Pool via AP) / AP Newsroom)

Proponents of the program have rejected claims that it undercuts wages and say that the program is used to fill gaps in the labor market.

Specifically the rule would clarify that the education requirement can be met by "a range of degrees," but that there must be a direct relationship to the field. It also expands exemptions to the annual cap for nonprofits and governmental research organizations.

Additionally, it would allow more flexibility for students wishing to transfer to an H-1B visa. It would also codify the government’s ability to conduct site visits, allow for the denial of petitions if such visits are refused, and would bar entities from submitting multiple applications for the same beneficiary to game the lottery.

"DHS continues to develop and implement regulations that increase efficiency and improve processes for employers and workers navigating the immigration system," Homeland Security Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. "The Biden-Harris Administration’s priority is to attract global talent, reduce undue burdens on employers, and prevent fraud and abuse in the immigration system."

The reforms are unlikely to satisfy critics of the program, some of whom have called for the outright abolition of the program.

Former Vice President Mike Pence in 2021 called for President Biden to ban H-1B visas for Chinese nationals employed by U.S. tech companies amid concerns about the threats to American intellectual property and national security.

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., also introduced legislation that would set a wage floor for H-1B visa recipients equal to that being paid to American workers currently in the position, or $110,000 — whichever is higher.

Recently, 2024 presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy said he would "gut" the program if elected president. 

"The lottery system needs to be replaced by actual meritocratic admission. It’s a form of indentured servitude that only accrues to the benefit of the company that sponsored an H-1B immigrant. I’ll gut it," he said in a statement to Politico.