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Executive order targets H-1B visas, which saw applications decline

Last week, our blog reported how the submission window for H-1B visa applications had closed in five days, marking the fifth consecutive year that the 85,000 visa cap was reached within this narrow time frame.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, however, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services announced yesterday that it received 199,000 H-1B visa applications for fiscal year 2018. While this is certainly an impressive number, it actually represents something of a departure from recent years.

Indeed, agency figures show that this is far lower than the 236,000 H-1B visa applications submitted last year and the first time applications fell below 200,000 since fiscal year 2014.

While the dearth of data makes it difficult to determine why the number of applications declined by 37,000, some are theorizing that it could be attributed in part to a reluctance on the part of employers to invest so much time and money into the process only to walk away empty handed.

Still others are theorizing that it could be attributed to the temporary suspension of premium processing.

It will be interesting, of course, to see whether the number of H-1B visa applications declines further in the years ahead given the growing call to reform the program in the halls of Congress and the receptiveness of the Trump administration to do exactly this.

Indeed, sources indicate that President Trump is scheduled to sign an executive order later today entitled "Buy American, Hire American," which calls on the departments of Justice, State, Labor and Homeland Security to devise new rules to prevent immigration-related fraud.

Specifically, it will direct these agencies to devise changes designed to ensure that H-1B visas are only given to those applicants who are the most qualified or highest paid. As to what these changes could look like, some suggest they could be largely administrative, such as higher visa fees or an altered wage scale.

As always, stay tuned for updates …

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions or concerns regarding immigration matters relating to either employment or investment opportunities.

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