- The Washington Times - Friday, May 26, 2017

The Trump administration is probing several high-profile companies’ use of guest-worker visas to see if they are using them to skirt the intention of the law and replace Americans with foreign workers, officials confirmed in a letter to Congress this week.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also said it’s preparing new rules to govern the H-1B visa program, which is supposed to be open to high-skilled workers. That will include a request for Congress to pass new laws cracking down on abuse of the program.

The H-1B visa was a particular target of President Trump’s during the campaign, and now in office he’s taken early steps.

Last month he signed an executive order demanding an update to the program’s rules.

In the meantime, USCIS said in a letter to Sen. Charles E. Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that agency officials have looked at cases involving Disney, Northeast Utilities and the University of California-San Francisco, which stand accused by employees of outsourcing jobs to H-1B visa holders.

In some cases the American workers were told to train their foreign worker replacements.

The H-1B program is attractive to many technology companies, and demand for the 85,000 visas — 20,000 of which are reserved for holders of high-level degrees — is extreme. All visas were accounted for this year in the first week of the application period.

Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, used the H-1B to work in the U.S. as a fashion model in the 1990s.

But in recent years companies have been accused of trying to duck hiring American workers, and particularly computer scientists, by using the program to bring in foreign coders.

Mr. Grassley said that was an abuse of the intent.

“Congress created the H-1B program to help American companies fill labor gaps when there aren’t enough American workers,” he said. “We need to get this problem fixed soon so no more Americans are unfairly displaced because a company chooses to abuse this program.”

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