The ‘Buy American and Hire American’ Executive Order Two Years Later

On April 18, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Buy American and Hire American.” The President insisted that the Executive Order would favor American workers more so than the policies already in place. He also intended, among other things, for the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order to address his concerns with the H-1B visa program. The President thought that the H-1B lottery system should be modified so that H-1B visas would only go to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants. He also insisted that the H-1B system should not be allowed to replace American workers with foreign workers. The new Executive Order was meant to address these flaws in the H-1B program.

Technically, the executive order did not create any laws or modify any that already existed. Instead, the Order set in place a policy for the maximization of the production, and sale of goods, products and materials produced in the United States. With an eye toward fulfilling the mandate of the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has applied new rules, directives and adjustments to safeguard the jobs of American workers and to avert abuses of the H-1B program.

More specifically, USCIS has made changes in three categories: (1) policies and regulations protecting U.S. workers, (2) fraud detection and prevention in employment-based visa programs, and (3) transparency of employment-based visa programs. Under the first category, USCIS changed the order of selection of H-1B petitions under the cap. Now, USCIS first selects H-1B petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, in the general lottery. Then, from the remaining number of advanced degree petitions, USCIS selects a number expected to reach the advanced degree exemption cap. This change ensures that individuals with a master’s degree or higher have a better chance of being selected in the H-1B lottery.

In January of 2019, the President signed another executive order intending to expand the “Buy American and Hire American” stratagem. This second executive order works from the first to try to impact economic production in a way that benefits United States workers and businesses and may have a further impact on immigration. If you have applied for an H-1B visa, of if you plan on applying for one soon, and you have questions or concerns about how the President’s Executive Orders may have impacted your ability to obtain an H-1B visa, please do not hesitate to call Berardi Immigration to set up a consultation with one of our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys today! 

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