The White House administration issued a warning to companies in the U.S. as they start applying for the coveted visas for skilled workers, cautioning it would investigate as well as prosecute those overlooking qualified Americans for the jobs.
The White House’s message arrived on the first day of applications for employers seeking the H-1B visas that are used for the most part by tech companies to bring programmers as well as other specialized workers from outside the U.S.
A member of the Justice Department said the U.S. workers should not have a disfavored status and the DOJ was committed wholeheartedly to the investigation and prosecution of any claims.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration sued businesses for the violation of anti-discrimination provisions including companies that favored foreign workers over U.S. workers.
However, the warning by the White House on Monday appeared to be a first ever signal of its kind to employers not to place American workers at the end of the line.
In addition, it was announced by the Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. that it would be stepping up reviews of employers using the H-1B visas as it said too many workers in the U.S. who are qualified, deserving and willing to work in those fields have been unfairly disadvantaged or ignored.
These statements are just the latest sign that even legal immigration is being scrutinized by the new White House administration.
While visa abuse enforcement is nothing new, this aggressive position for the H-1B program represents a new approach.
Sean Spicer the spokesperson for the White House addressed it at the start of his Monday press briefing by saying the Trump administration would crack down on companies discriminating against workers in the U.S. through using the visa program to hire workers who are from outside the U.S.
The H-1B visa program is open to a wide range of occupations that includes professors, architects and fashion models. Businesses must affirm that the job requires a special skill that is not able to be filled by a worker from the U.S. However, critics say the safeguards are very weak.
They say the program routinely allows foreigners that have minimal skills, even when the visas are reserved for jobs that are highly specialized that are found to be difficult to fill with workers from the U.S.
The tech sector insists the program is of vital importance to its industry.