U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at an event about the economy, at the White House campus in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2023. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at an event about the economy, at the White House campus in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2023 Image Credit: REUTERS

The Biden administration has revealed its proposed reforms for the H-1B visa programme, addressing allegations that it has been misused by major tech companies to the detriment of American workers, Fox Business reported.

The Department of Homeland Security has initiated rulemaking to simplify eligibility requirements, offer more flexibility to both employers and foreign workers, and combat fraud and abuse within the programme.

What is H-1B visa programme

The H-1B visa programme is primarily used by the tech industry, with Amazon leading in approved petitions in FY 2021, followed by Google, IBM, and Microsoft, as reported by Fox Business, an American conservative business news channel and website publication.

Advocates of the programme argue that it fills labour market gaps and does not undermine wages.

Proposed Changes

Key provisions of the proposed rule include clarifying the range of acceptable degrees for meeting the education requirement, expanding exemptions for non-profits and governmental research organisations, enhancing flexibility for students transferring to H-1B visas, and implementing measures to prevent abuse, such as site visits and restrictions on multiple applications for the same beneficiary.

"DHS continues to develop and implement regulations that increase efficiency and improve processes for employers and workers navigating the immigration system," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

"The Biden-Harris Administration's priority is to attract global talent, reduce undue burdens on employers, and prevent fraud and abuse in the immigration system," Homeland Security Secretary said as reported by Fox Business.

While the proposed reforms aim to address criticisms, some critics have called for the complete abolition of the programme.

Former Vice President Mike Pence previously called for the ban of H-1B visas for Chinese nationals in the tech industry due to concerns about national security and intellectual property threats.

Rep Jim Banks introduced legislation to establish a wage floor for H-1B recipients, matching the salaries of American workers in equivalent positions or USD 110,000, whichever is higher.

Recently, 2024 presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy said he would "gut" the programme if elected president.

"The lottery system needs to be replaced by actual meritocratic admission. It's a form of indentured servitude that only accrues to the benefit of the company that sponsored an H-1B immigrant. I'll gut it," he said in a statement to Politico, as reported by Fox Business.