Trump Can Fix H-1B Cesspool by Shortening Visas and Eliminating Renewals

By John Miano on January 30, 2017

There are many things that President Trump can do to tweak the H-1B cesspool. Real reform would have to come from Congress. However, Obama demonstrated that a president may take extreme measures, not even authorized by statute, that many members of Congress approved of.

Fortunately, President Trump does not have to venture outside of the statutes to do a little cleanup to the H-1B problem. I have described other such potential actions previously.

For today I have another simple H-1B reform for President Trump: Shorten the length of the visa and eliminate renewals. Currently H-1B visas are valid for three years and can be renewed once for up to six years. Congress has only specified that H-1B visas can last up to six years. The three-year term and the one renewal is entirely a product of regulation. There is nothing to stop the Trump administration from, say, reducing the H-1B duration to one term of two years.

It is supposed to be a guestworker program after all.

Such a change in H-1B duration would require changing regulations, so it would take nearly a year to accomplish.

In the previous proposal I put forth that President Trump could replace the current purely random procedure for selecting H-1B petitions for processing with one that selects the petitions where the aliens will receive the highest wages.

I have heard grumblings of complaint, but only a few open criticisms of such a change.

One of the grumblings (that I have not yet seen in print) is the threat of lawsuits. The lawsuit issue is one that has been considered with these proposals for changes to the lottery.

Hypothetically, suppose President Trump announces next week he is changing the H-1B petition selection process to being wage-based. Then the following week a group of immigration lawyers files a suit. Let us even assume that the district court grants an injunction against the change.

President Trump could simply delay processing the H-1B visa petitions until the courts resolve the question. That could take years. The president expressly has such power under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f):

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

This provision also opens the door to more administrative restrictions on H-1B visas to discuss in future posts.

Meanwhile, it is apparent the cheap foreign labor lobby will use the "What's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable" strategy to attempt to derail any statutory H-1B reform. The useless American media is already parroting the "fake news" narrative fed to them that the do-nothing bill introduced by Congressman Issa raises the minimum salaries for H-1B workers.

As the blog post mentioned above suggests, Congressman Issa's do-nothing-to-reform bill could be coupled with an increase in the number of H-1B visas. In such a "compromise," the cheap foreign labor lobby gives up nothing to get an H-1B increase.