With the new administration in the US, numerous immigration agencies of the US government have reiterated their intention to facilitate the rule promoting the raise of the prevailing wage rates for H-1B visa holders as well as green card holders in the recent “fall agenda”. Additionally, talks of modernising the H-1B programme have been raised, with provisions to safeguard the abuse of the programme.
Mitch Wexler, a partner at the global immigration law firm, Fragomen, stated that the current wage rule which had been imposed during the Trump era had been vacated by the federal court with the consent of the Department of Labour (DOL). Further, the DOL is now in the process of creating a new prevailing wage regulation after considering the public comments it received previously.
As per Wexler, the publication of the draft of the new regulation is scheduled to take place in September 2023. Reports recited an action point in the pre-election manifesto of Joe Biden, where he aimed to “curb [the] exploitation of foreign workers, by ensuring that employers cannot hire below the market rate”.
As per reports, different US government agencies highlight their immediate and long-term action plans at least twice a year. The action plans about immigration are often laid out by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Labour (DOL). The process of draft proposals in the US highlights a 30-60 day period, wherein public comments are accepted. Subsequently, the next steps of finalising the proposal take up a few more months.
In terms of modernising the H-1B programme, the proposed rule by DHS is expected to “redefine the H-1B employer-employee relationship, while, also providing flexibility to start-up entrepreneurs." The proposal involves a plan of action implementing new requirements and guidelines for ‘on-site’ visits by the regulatory bodies. In addition to this, the proposal also highlighted the strengthening of the E-registration process to curb misuse and fraud. However, this proposal has been postponed to October 2023 from its previously scheduled date of May 2023.
Regarding this, Wexler stated that the administrative process for US employers will be eased with aspects such as the clarification by DHS of material changes to an H-1B employment which in turn required an amended petition to be filed or the streamlining of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) notification at the time of an H-1B employee’s job change.
Reports state that the Department of State seems to have abandoned that plan to finalise a rule that would have eliminated the use of the B-1 business visitor category instead of the H-1B visa category.
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Source: The Times of India