A new rule being proposed by the Trump administration would eliminate the lottery for H-1B skilled worker visas in favor of giving preference to visa applicants earning higher wages relative to others in their same occupation.
The proposed rule would not directly affect universities in their employment decisions, as it only applies to visas that are subject to the congressionally set caps on H-1B visas; universities are exempt from those caps. However, it would have implications for international graduates of U.S. institutions who use the H-1B visa as a pathway to stay in the U.S. and work.
The Trump administration argues that the rule would “maximize H-1B cap allocations, so that they more likely would go to the best and brightest workers.”
“Prioritizing wage levels in the registration selection process incentivizes employers to offer higher wages,” the proposed rule states. “Similarly, it disincentivizes abuse of the H-1B program to fill lower-paid, lower-skilled positions, which is a significant problem under the present selection system.”
A frequent critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, Stuart Anderson, the executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, argues in Forbes that a wage-based ranking could disadvantage recently graduated international students seeking entry-level positions. “If employers must pay individuals with no work experience the same as employees with several years of experience, international students may become too expensive to hire,” Anderson wrote.
The Trump administration has separately issued new rules narrowing eligibility criteria for H-1B visas and increasing the wages employers must pay them. Some universities have filed suit opposing the changes.