Why prevailing wage reform matters for H-1B visas
Nolan Rappaport, opinion contributor

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Undocumented aliens are welcomed by unscrupulous employers who take advantage of their illegal status to hire them for wages which are lower than the employers would have to pay American workers.

This doesn’t just happen with undocumented aliens. Employers are using the H-1B visa program to do the same thing with aliens who come here lawfully, which is causing problems for American workers who are not willing to accept lower wages to remain competitive.

President Donald Trump is taking action to deal with this problem, but there isn’t much time left in the first term of his presidency, and he may not get a second one.

The H-1B program

Section 1101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) makes H-1B visas available to aliens entering the U.S. to perform services “in a specialty occupation.”

Section 1184(i)(1) of the INA defines “specialty occupation” as an occupation that requires “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge” and the “attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent).”

The H-1B classification has an annual cap of 65,000 new visas per fiscal year, but the cap does not apply to every alien who comes to the United States for employment in a specialty occupation. An additional 20,000 visas are available for H-1B employees who have a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education. Also, H-1B workers who are employed at an institution of higher education, a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization may not be subject to the cap.

As of the end of fiscal 2019, approximately 583,420 aliens were authorized to work in the United States in the H-1B program. Most of these visas were held by aliens from India and China.


Employers must pay the H-1B worker a wage which is no less than the wage paid to similarly qualified workers or, if greater, the prevailing wage for the position in the geographic area in which the H-1B employee will be working.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has determined that changes are needed in the way it calculates prevailing wage rates to more effectively eliminate any economic incentive or advantage to hiring H-1B foreign workers instead of American workers.

Read more at https://thehill.com/opinion/immigrat...for-h-1b-visas

Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @NolanR1 or at https://nolanrappaport.blogspot.com