Yesterday (April 18, 2017), President Trump signed a new “Executive Order” entitled – “Buy American and Hire American.” In introducing this Executive Order Trump said, “The buy and hire American order I’m about to sign will protect workers and students like you. It’s America first, you better believe it. It’s time. It’s time, right?” the President added as he addressed technical students and manufacturing employees at the headquarters of Snap-On Tools, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer. While clearly intended to impress, it is reassuring to note that the President has not acted on his former threat of entirely doing away with the program.
The main provisions regarding H-1B are contained in Section 5 of the Executive Order which states:
Ensuring the Integrity of the Immigration System in Order to “Hire American.” (a) In order to advance the policy outlined in section 2(b) of this order, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, as soon as practicable, and consistent with applicable law, propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse. (b) In order to promote the proper functioning of the H-1B visa program, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, as soon as practicable, suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.
It is important to know that this Executive Order will have no immediate impact whatsoever on the H-1B Program or the Random Selection Process (Lottery) that was concluded by the USCIS this week.
It also does not intend to authorize “new rules or guidance” – only supervise and revise existing guidance. More importantly, it merely seeks suggestions on how to reform the H-1B program as opposed to changing it immediately.
It is highly unlikely that the salaries and ways in which the program is implemented will change drastically in the coming weeks, or even months. I see this as more noise in the already raucous debate on immigration. It offers no structure as to how and what changes, if any, employers and businesses should expect in order to better prepare themselves.