- President Donald Trump's proposed budget will include new fees on employers for labor certifications and prevailing wage requests, the National Law Review reports. The fees are a means of ensuring that employers who want to hire foreign workers consider American workers first, according to the report.
- The fees would effectively make the the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) self-funded. The OFLC handles labor certificates for H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 applications; H-2A and H-2B labor certifications; and prevailing wage determinations. The Review says the president likely proposed the fees to protect American workers from being displaced by foreign labor.
- The number of H-1B visas filed this year is down to 199,000 from 236,000 last year. The Review says the decrease, a first in five years, likely stems from the fact that fewer large IT and outsourcing firms filed this year. The fee for H-1B petitions rose from $325 to $460.
The H-1B petition fee rose by $135, a substantial increase. No dollar amount was specified for the proposed fee on employers. The real question on policymakers' minds: Will these fees and increases meet the president's goal to "hire American"?
Although the number of H-1B visas filed decreased this year, skill shortages, a huge part of the reason why companies invest in foreign talent, aren't going away anytime soon. Large IT firms could end up paying the largest portion of the fees, as they deal with a particularly problematic skills gap.
President Trump made the visa program a central theme of his campaign. He vowed to change the lottery system of hiring highly skilled foreign workers to a petition-based system. An executive order signed in April called for reforms to the visa program, which included the possibility of increasing fees or enforcing penalties for what the president described as program violations.
The administration's budget proposal, if passed as is, would have several implications for HR departments of all sizes. "If" is the operating word, however. Congressional leaders will have much to say about this and other objectives as the proposal moves through the approval process.