Biden Administration Lets Trump H-1B Visa Ban Expire

In a move unlikely to stun anyone who follows immigration-related issues, the Biden administration has declined to renew President Donald Trump’s ban on H-1Bs and other guest worker visas. 

A note posted on the U.S. State Department’s website suggested that visa applicants “who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview will have their applications prioritized and processed in accordance with existing phased resumption of visa services guidance.” Meanwhile, applicants who were refused visas due to the ban “may reapply by submitting a new application including a new fee.”

In January 2020, as his term came to a close, President Trump extended his ban on what his administration termed “immigrants who present a risk to the United States labor market,” including those who rely on the H-1B visa. Although that extension was set to expire on March 31, the Biden administration gave precious little indication about what it intended to do about it (until now, that is).

Indeed, the Biden administration’s initial approach to the thorny H-1B issue was potentially confusing for many. Although the White House issued no guidance about whether or not it intended to extend Trump’s ban, registration for the H-1B visa lotter for fiscal year 2022 still kicked off on March 9 and ran through the end of the month. 

It remains to be seen how Biden might try to reform the H-1B system, although his U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would prioritize visas based on wages, and give both the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Labor the ability to determine the appropriate wage levels. Should that legislation pass, it would represent a seismic shift from the current H-1B lottery, which is based on random selection.

An H-1B system organized around high wages would undermine the business model of consulting and outsourcing firms, which generally pay H-1B workers lower average salaries than technology companies. For years, critics have argued that the current H-1B lottery allows companies to import cheaper labor. When the Trump administration first proposed this new method of allocating visas in 2020, a note from the Department of Homeland Security explained: “This new selection process would incentivize employers to offer higher wages or petition for positions requiring higher skills and higher-skilled workers instead of using the program to fill relatively lower-paid vacancies.”

What the Biden administration will ultimately do seems undetermined at this point, but tech companies that opposed Trump’s ban (of which there were many, including giants such as Apple and Google) are no doubt happy to see it gone. 

16 Responses to “Biden Administration Lets Trump H-1B Visa Ban Expire”

  1. Jake_Leone

    The amendment basing H-1b assignment priority, on Salary, doesn’t have a chance of making it. No one is willing pay for it and the tech companies are against it. Well the Immigration lawyers advise the tech companies, they are all against it.

    I have talked/debated with several immigration lawyers on the internet, literally a public discussion. And they all said the change from a random chance (idiotic) lottery to a selection priority based upon salary was a terrible idea. But they what they won’t say is the real reason it is a bad idea.

    Right now, everyone who applies for a H-1b visa has an equal chance of getting that H-1b visa. Netflix might be paying 600k/yr and Oracle 40k/yr and Infosys 60k/yr, but they all have the same chance of ***Winning*** that H-1b visa.

    That means no one has any information that can allow them to decide it is better to remove themselves from the lottery process (thereby saving money). And that money, that is all given over to immigration lawyers. If we change to a salary based allocation, more than half of the H-1b submissions will disappear, overnight, and so will the business dollars heading to immigration lawyers.

    Outsourcing companies put in numerous, redundant applications, for what amounts to the same position here in the United States, at salaries that are 30% below the market rate. And in doing so, they *** Win ***, half the H-1b visas.

    But Big Tech doesn’t really care. Big Stable Tech companies find 30x more qualified STEM/IT people then they can hire (Facebook vs DOJ). Small (fly-by-night) start-up are the ones that fail to attract applications. And Big Tech companies all have big contracts with those same Offshore Outsourcing companies.

    And the Political money, influence, and goodwill (or badwill directed at some politicians) comes from Big Tech. Little Tech, is Sh!, ittle, Tech as far as politicians are concerned. The Pond Scum has no say.

    In fact that amendment is actually what will kill the bill. Unless it is removed in closed door sessions.

  2. Regardless of how the H1B program plays out, one thing to realize it is that is never just one job that is lost by an American. It’s usually 2 jobs. These H1B workers have a spouse and if they don’t when come here, eventually, they will. Usually, the spouse has a higher education as well in STEM or another field. I’ve been in IT for decades and I’ve watched this play out for years. The tech companies are the winners and Americans are the losers.

    • Violet

      Juan, I agree with your comments. I am an African American female who has been in IT for over 30 years. Hiring ALL Indians is BLATANT racism. There are many qualified and competent African Americans who are overlooked because corporations are entrenched in Systemic Racism and would rather outsource rather than hire their own qualified Citizens.

    • The spouse of the H1b visa holder is NOT subject to the same requirements for their ability to work in the US – there is not established labor need for the H4 EAD. I have seen several who were brought into the office as a ‘favor’ to their spouse – and given such titles as Business Analyst or even Technical Lead. The education and skill levels are seriously lacking.

  3. It’s interesting that H1-b limitations are being discussed at this time. In the U.S. there’s a conversation going on about race and systematic racism. I think that the H1-b is an example of systemic racism. I’ve worked in IT for nearly 30 years as a programmer and I can count on one hand the number of African Americans that I’ve worked with. I am more likely to work with someone from India on an H1-b visa than with a black person from my own city. Why? Because businesses find it cheaper to import workers that to invest in local populations.

    I firmly believe that we squandered an opportunity to take disenfranchised populations and raise them to the middle-class by encouraging businesses to use H1-b visas. When I first started programming, you could get a good job with an associate degree. Now you need a bachelor’s degree to get a job, but we would have had 30 years of mentoring and 30 years of those populations being part of the “American Dream.” Instead we have riots.

    Not only have we keep minorities down in the US, but we basically ceded all of IT to India because of the H1-b visa. My company hired an Indian CEO and every director and manager hired since then has been Indian. I don’t blame India for taking advantage of this, but if you look at who benefits from H1-b visas, it’s not the American people, it’s the people who run corporations.

    Too bad people couldn’t look beyond their hate for President Trump to prevent the further decline of IT.

    • Carolyn Didier

      “My company hired an Indian CEO and every director and manager hired since then has been Indian.”

      Rinse and repeat at every company that has placed an Indian in a hiring position.

    • You’re absolutely right, Patel. Biden was elected to destroy America and that’s exactly what’s he’s trying to do. But don’t worry because the American people see you for what you are: Infiltrators and Invaders. Since these “so-called” RACIST Indians have arrived, the number of Data Breaches has escalated. But don’t worry, the people who care about this Country will not stand for foreign invasion.
      This is one American Black Woman’s opinion.

    • Baboo Ghandi

      Are you serious? H-1B should be based on salary and it should be raised DRASTICALLY every year. We have too many indigenous people in the USA that have the smarts, knowledge and training to do these jobs. And they would love to do these jobs.

      I agree with Andy from above. More money and effort should have been spent on retraining disadvantaged American citizens to do these jobs than importing people (who do not integrate into American culture).

  4. Danny81

    JT is correct. Hardly any of a certain group of H1B holders don’t have a spouse who will come along, or shortly after the H1B is granted, a new spouse who will join them on an H-4. Great people, friendly (mostly!) and smart, but facts are facts. This happens. A lot.

  5. Tax corps higher who use these Visas to “cut costs” and lower taxes for companies which stick with hiring natural born US Citizens. Manufacturing was largely destroyed thanks to outsourcing and now tech has that same potential.

    • jake_leone

      Indeed, let’s have a real competition.

      Let’s require employers doing the PERM process for foreign worker, be required to use every available free web site.
      (DOJ vs Facebook) Facebooks finds 30x more local STEM/IT workers than it can hire. (DOJ vs Facebook) Facebook says it would hire the 97% of candidates, because they are more than qualified, but it has only 1 job per ad.
      (DOJ vs Facebook) Facebook refused the free offer of the Chronicle to place the print PERM jobs, also on the Chronicle website.
      (DOJ vs Facebook) Facebook says the 97% of qualified STEM/IT candidate that it would hire (if Facebook had the jobs) – Facebook never forwards these resumes to the hiring managers in the PERM process.
      (DOJ vs Facebook) Facebook says that the 97% of qualified candidates it cannot hire, are in fact applying (and qualified to do) jobs that are more difficult than the jobs foreign workers (undergoing PERM) are doing, that Facebook is protecting from an actual competition with local STEM/IT workers.

      Yes, let’s have a real competition.

      Not a competition where the U.S. government strips a group of foreign workers from their 13th amendment rights, and then sells those workers to industry for a fee.

    • jake_leone

      It could be racism, depending on what level the competition is actually raised. Human being organized hunters have made many species extinct, Darwin is totally blown out of the water when it comes to human intelligence.

      If a group of people band together, they can effectively exclude other groups from the workplace, irregardless of competition. All you need is a company with a cash cow, and you can ride that money train for decades, irregardless of how bad such discrimination is for productivity.

      After just a few decades, such racism could become the stereotyped view of who can and who cannot do the work. At that point it becomes institutional racism.