President Trump vowed in a tweet to make changes to the H-1B visa program in the U.S., including offering a potential path to citizenship for visa holders.
"We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.," he continued.
H1-B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship. We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2019
The H-1B is non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to hire graduate-level workers in specialty occupations, like IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, science and medicine. Any job that requires workers to have at least a bachelor’s degree falls under the H-1B for specialty occupations.
This year the United States and the United States Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) have to handle a high number of H1B applications.
What is the H1B Visa?
The H1B visa is provided to highly skilled workers that are hired by multinational companies. The H1B allows specialized employees to live and work in the United States for a limited amount of time.
President Donald Trump promised a new approach to handling immigration services when he was elected, the problem however, was that the administration of the H1B visa program failed due to record numbers H1B visa applications. The failure of the H1B visa program can be attributed to the impact of the program’s annual lottery in April.
As already mentioned above, this year more people than expected applied for an H1B visa, causing thousands of would be approved cases to get stuck waiting in line for a response. There was also a dramatic change in Request for Evidence (RFE) this year, going up to 44% when compared to numbers from last year, according to statistics from the USCIS. The number measured this year of Requests of Evidence is the highest number recorded since 2009.
Reaction to the H1B visa changes
If we take a look at the famous Silicon Valley, the deterioration of the H1B visa program is something many tech leaders have shown extreme opposition to. It has been a top political priority for the valley and the current campaign of reform has changed much within the companies growing in the tech region.
Aside from the proposed travel ban and the cancellation of DACA, the political fight still continues to reject promising individuals from coming and staying in the US. What’s more, after the terrorist attack in New York, Trump decided to eliminate another visa lottery program: the diversity visa lottery.
The changes to H1B are happening fast
According to the immigration lawyer Emily Neuman, everything has changed dramatically just this year.
She said normally 90% of all her applications get accepted until October 1st, but this year, only 20% of all her applications got accepted. This is the same across the board for several people who deal with H1B application approvals and rejections. This Indicates a major change in this year’s H1B visa program which has many worried and dismayed at their prospects of attaining their long-awaited for visa.
Unfortunately for those who feel wrongly rejected, the USCIS declines any requested interview and will only send a written statement saying: “USCIS officers use currently existing policy that interprets existing statutory and regulatory requirements to evaluate petitions and make an eligibility determination, as done in the past, officers evaluate each petition on a case-by-case basis to determine if a petition qualifies for the benefit being requested.”
Since President Trump has stepped into office as POTUS, a lot has changed in the USCIS, including sharp changes in the staff that granted applications before. Now the USCIS is staffed with people who used to work for the Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. This may be directly correlated with the drop in vH1B visa approvals since Senator Grassley has always been critical of the H1B visa program.
What’s next for the H1B Visa Program?
If keeping jobs in the United States is Trump’s goal his plan does not seem be working for anyone’s benefit.
He is causing strife and anxiety among high tech companies working to stay competitive in the global tech industry. These companies will not let Trump cut at their profits because of his current immigration plan, and will find a way to stay competitive in the international tech arena.
All in all, things are not looking good for the H1B visa program and this was only the first year of the dramatic reform.
We only expect more changes to come in the near future, as well as more solutions on how to continue using foreign talent. Regardless of what happens, we will always keep you updated on the changes with the H1B visa program and hope that we will be able to bring you good news instead of bad.
 USCIS Strengthens Protections to Combat H-1B Abuses | USCIS https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-strengthens-protections-combat-h-1b-abuses
 Remarks by President Trump on Buy American, Hire American Executive Order https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-buy-american-hire-american-executive-order/