With employers across industries being impacted, recent changes to H1-B visa regulations by the Trump administration are likely to be reversed, said Liz Stern, head of Mayer Brown’s Global Mobility & Migration practice, in an October 26 HR Dive article.

Business groups—including the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, and medical and dental organizations—and several universities recently sued the Trump administration over revised regulations over the H-1B visa, which allows highly skilled international workers into the country to work for US employers.

Two changes are at issue: a revision to the US Department of Labor’s regulations, which increases the wage scale for H-1B holders by 30 to 60 percent, and the US Department of Homeland Security releasing an interim final rule that limits degree requirements for H-1B holders to work in certain jobs and restricts the terms of contractors hired through the H-1B program from three years to one.

Liz noted that both departments bypassed the typical step of allowing time for public comment on proposed changes.

“Suddenly, you’ve got the Department of Labor saying H-1B workers must be paid [more], because our own system, which we’ve been using, is obviously wrong,” Liz said. “It just has a gaping hole as to the rationale behind any change in the rule, and it definitely doesn’t address the timing.”

Employers filing for renewal of their H-1B this year may feel the impact of these policies even more, and Liz gave an example that speaks directly to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying switch to remote work. “If someone moved from one location to another, there’s a requirement for an amended filing almost inevitably. And in that moment, that amended filing for somebody who simply just moved because they were working virtually […] can trigger the need for filing and suddenly their salary must be a completely different level.”

The article goes on to state that these regulations have driven employers to look to other countries for expansion, delay visa filings and keep job openings unfilled for longer periods of time.

“I think there is absolutely no question that all of these industries are already, first of all, taking on the fight to prevent this from becoming a reality and yet, at the same time, anticipating that there’s some vulnerability,” Liz said.

For information on other regulatory developments related to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Portal.

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