President Trump has ordered his administration to launch a reform of the H-1B visa system, which awards 85,000 U.S. visas for foreign workers annually by lottery.
The system has been exploited by companies from the Fortune 500 to Silicon Valley to offer wages to foreign workers that are below wages they would be forced to offer to American workers with comparable qualifications.
Under the reforms, visas will instead be offered to companies that compete to offer the highest salaries.
“The Trump administration is continuing to deliver on its promise to protect the American worker while strengthening the economy,” said Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli. “The current use of random selection to allocate H-1B visas … hurts American workers by bringing in relatively lower-paid foreign labor at the expense of the American workforce.”
“We have seen more progress in the last few weeks than we’ve seen in the last 30 years,” said Kevin Lynn, founder of U.S. Tech Workers, which opposes the H-1B and other visa worker programs. “Trump is siding with working Americans…So he’s clearly made a choice between the elites and working men and women.”
Forty-six tech companies, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, have extended support for a lawsuit filed against these reforms. The suit was brought by by plaintiffs including the US Chamber of Commerce and 12 other organizations and universities in a Northern California court recently.