By Tracy Jan
U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a tour of U.S.-Mexico border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California last week. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Trump has managed to erect an “invisible wall” that makes it increasingly difficult for companies to hire skilled foreign workers, according to a new report from experts in immigration law, despite the president’s call for a merit-based immigration system that prioritizes the admittance of people who are skilled and who want to work.
But the hurdles in employment-based immigration put in place during Trump’s first year in office have already discouraged foreign workers from seeking jobs in the U.S. and American companies from recruiting overseas.
The number of petitions for “high-skilled” H-1B visas received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has fallen for the first time in five years, from 236,000 for the 2017 fiscal year to 199,000 for 2018, the report said.
The report by the American Immigration Lawyers Association said businesses have been “hit with unprecedented scrutiny of nonimmigrant petitions for skilled workers, managers, executives and others.”
It identified a slew of new barriers for foreign workers and the companies that employ them, including a dramatic increase in requests for additional evidence and interview requirements in processing H-1B visa petitions, the dismantling of Obama-era rules to encourage immigrant entrepreneurship, and proposals to eliminate work authorization for spouses of high-skilled workers.
Immigration lawyers said the new policies related to employer-sponsored visas are creating hardship for businesses, which, given the low unemployment rates, are spending substantial time and money recruiting and hiring foreign workers with the right skills.
“The heightened standards and new interpretations that are now being used by USCIS …read more