Reforming the H-1B US visa program


A federal immigration appeals board on Wednesday made clear that guest workers seeking a visa available to foreigners with graduate degrees must have earned their degrees from accredited institutions.

The ruling closes a potential loophole in the H-1B visa program that could have opened the door to foreign workers with paper degrees from diploma mills, according to critics of the program.
The case before the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services involved a company that wanted to hire a foreign computer programmer who had a master’s degree from International Technological University in California. Federal law caps H-1B visas at 65,000 a year but allows another 20,000 to be awarded to people with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions of higher learning.

The USCIS denied the application because International Technological University was not accredited when the would-be employee earned the degree in December 2010. The company appealed, but the appeals board upheld the decision.

Trump also has directed federal agencies to consider raising visa fees, adjusting wage scales, and changing how visas are awarded, among other reforms that can be undertaken without Congress.

Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said it is one more signal that President Donald Trump's administration is serious about reforming America's visa programs.

"This also might be another example of the administration reviewing various visa categories being used for things other than what was intended," he said.


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