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Wage hike rule of Trump admin under review, will not apply to upcoming H-1B filing season

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The final wage rule, given by the Trump government on January 14, won’t apply to the upcoming H-1B filing season. The registration for H-1B is probably going to start in March

This rule was was to take effect from 15th March. However will currently be delayed to May 14, in response to President Joe Biden’s regulatory freeze. This proposed delay of 60 days will permit agency authorities the opportunity to review any questions of fact, law, or policy. The rule may raise, says the US department of labor (DOL). Meanwhile, DOL will be seeking public comments on this extension. 

Rajiv S Khanna, managing lawyer at Immigration.com told TOI, “The May 14, the timeline should take us past the H-1B lottery if the Labor Condition Application (LCA) process is done before the kick-off date.” The registration for H-1B applications (petitions) for the coming season is expected to commence in March. The lottery will be held in April expected to commence in March.

This spells good news for technology organizations who have plans to recruit at lower skill levels, and for research and medical institutions. Typically, international students transitioning to H-1B visas after completing their optional practical training (which is three years for STEM students) are also recruited at entry levels. Higher wages would have made it hard for organizations to hire them.

Wage hike rule of Trump admin won’t apply to upcoming H-1B filing season

As reported by TOI before, the final rule, which increased wages across all four skills levels, had given a multi-year transition period. The wage hike was not as steep as that contained in the previous interim final rule presented last October. Which was shot down by US district courts as the public notification and comment requirements were not followed. 

To illustrate, under the final rule, the entry-level wages for H-1B and green card holders were to increase to the 35th percentile of wages for the occupation and geographic location, from the 17th percentile. This was just above the current wage minimum for skill level 2. Under the interim final rules, the hike was more significant, with the entry-level wages slotted at the 45th percentile. Just under what was the minimum salary for skill level 3.

The net impact of this ‘simple’ percentile movement was that the salaries would eventually be increased around by 30%. Varying across job classifications, added Khanna.  

[Huge relief for spouses of H1B workers, Biden nixes Trump plan to kill H4 work permits]

While nearly, the wage hike was much lower. It had the impact of making the recruiting of ex-pat workers more challenging and was perceived as having an adverse effect in bridging the skill gaps. Especially in crucial sectors, for example, technology and medical and research fields.  

Presently, this final wage rule is under review by the Biden government. While wage hikes can’t be ruled out, the last picture on the level of wage hikes. If any, will emerge only after DOL finishes its review process and the Biden government takes a final call. 

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