On April 18, 2017, President Donald Trump signed the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, with the stated goal of promoting economic and national security, stimulating economic growth and creating higher wages and employment rates for U.S. workers.
The executive order makes no immediate changes to U.S. immigration policies. However, its “Hire American” section instructs the secretary of state, attorney general, secretary of labor, and secretary of homeland security to recommend new immigration rules and guidance to “protect the interests of United States workers” and to “suggest reforms to ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid” foreign workers. The background briefing on the executive order, given by a senior administration official, suggests that possible reforms could include increased H-1B fees, adjustment of the prevailing wage scale for H-1B positions and heightened enforcement of regulations relating to H-1B compliance.
The executive order was signed approximately two weeks after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced heightened measures to detect H-1B fraud and abuse by U.S. employers. Specifically, on April 3, 2017, USCIS announced it will take a more targeted approach in making site visits to H-1B petitioner locations and H-1B employee worksites to detect fraud and abuse, focusing on:
- Cases where USCIS cannot validate an employer’s basic business information.
- Employers with a high ratio of H-1B workers compared to U.S. workers.
- Employers with H-1B workers who work off-site.
In addition, as part of its heightened measures, USCIS publicized a new email address for submitting tips regarding alleged H-1B violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse.