President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order Tuesday that includes directives to revamp the H-1B program.

Key Points:

  • The Executive Order directs the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Labor, and Secretary of Homeland Security to propose new rules and issue new guidance to “protect the interest of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud and abuse.”
  • The Order also directs the agencies to suggest reforms to prioritize “the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries” in awarding H-1B visas.
  • Though the Order does not provide detail regarding these reforms or impose deadlines on the agencies, a background briefing posted by the White House indicates that the administration is considering specific changes to the H-1B system, including giving greater weight to H-1B applicants with advanced degrees and higher wages, and increasing application fees.
  • Nothing in the Order is expected to have an impact on this year’s H-1B selection process. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Monday that it had completed the H-1B lottery for the 2018 fiscal year after receiving 199,000 cap-subject petitions.

BAL Analysis: The Executive Order does not make immediate changes to the H-1B program, but directs the relevant federal agencies to come up with ideas for creating a system that gives more weight to higher skilled, higher paid workers. This year’s H-1B lottery process will not be affected.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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