The  Trump administration is increasing federal scrutiny on the employment-visa application process, a move that will make it even more difficult for companies to hire foreign workers.

While President Donald Trump campaigned on promises to reduce illegal immigration, these measures are affecting the legal ways people come to the country. For example, the administration is targeting the high-skilled visa program known as H-1B, sending back more than one in four applications between January and August, according to The Wall Street Journal. Under Obama, fewer than one in five were sent back, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which manages the H-1B program.

"The goal of the administration seems to be to grind the process to a halt or slow it down so much that they achieve a reduction in legal immigration through implementation rather than legislation," Ben Johnson, the executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which typically takes a pro-immigration stance, told the Journal.

Neither the Trump administration nor Congress has made sweeping changes to the visa programs, but some people have been bracing for more restrictions ever since October, when Francis Cissna was named director of USCIS. The Journal reported that Cissna has a reputation as a skeptic of visa programs like the H-1B. What's more, two regulatory changes are approaching that would reverse measures made by Obama to ease the application process for high-skilled foreign workers.

The administration is expected to scrap a provision that would allow the spouses of H-1B visa holders the right to work. Secondly, there could be changes to the Optional Practical Training program, which gives foreign graduates from U.S. colleges in science and tech an additional two years of work authorization. The administration would either eliminate that benefit or reduce the amount of time for the work authorization.

Published on: Nov 20, 2017