On Tuesday, the Labor Department issued an update to the labor regulations to protect the wages of U.S. graduates from abuse. Some companies and businesses employ PERM, H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 visa workers, paying them lower wages, thus generating unfair competition in the labor market for young professionals. 

The U.S. Labor Department’s official statement announced a new labor regulation reform to help protect the wages and employment opportunities of U.S. workers, using new formulas to determine prevailing wage rates to prevent potential abuses by employers linked primarily to the hiring of workers with immigrant visas such as H-1B.

“The U.S. Department of Labor is taking these steps to strengthen wage protections, address abuses in visa programs, and protect American workers from being undercut by cheaper foreign labor,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said in a Jan. 12 statement.

Scalia said the modifications are expected to make these types of programs work as Congress intended.

In other words, the visa systems must work to legally insert immigrants into the labor market without altering the opportunities for U.S. workers to obtain stable and well-paid jobs. 

In the United States, there are approximately 900,000 foreign workers hired through the H-1B program and 150,000 spouses engaged in administrative jobs as part of the same program. 

The Department of Labor’s new regulations establish minimum wages for H-1B workers, seeking to prevent companies from hiring foreign workers for less than a young American professional. 

The provision states:

“A primary purpose of the immigration restrictions created by the Immigration Act (INA), both quantitative and otherwise, is to ‘preserve jobs’ for American workers.'”

Safeguards for the American workforce and the Department’s role in administering them have been a key element of the legal framework since the INA was enacted in 1952.

By 2020, the regulations had already been amended, but modifications were made until the final version was presented after complaints from employers.

The new rule will require H-1B workers to be paid at least 45 percent of the prevailing wage levels, sharply up from the 17 percent level in current rules.

Meanwhile, qualified foreign workers, described as Level 2, 3, or 4, must be paid above the median wage level earned by qualified U.S. graduates under the new regulation.

The wage was increased for those levels, respectively, from approximately the 17th, 34th, 50th, and 67th percentiles to approximately the 45th, 62nd, 78th, and 95th percentiles. 

According to the U.S. Employment and Training Administration, the ultimate goal is to help American workers remain competitive in the labor market. Encouraging foreigners to be hired for this type of visa is for their skills and not merely to reduce employer costs. 

Each year, the U.S. admits about 1.3 million legal immigrants with green cards to settle permanently in the country. 

While, thanks to the Trump administration policies, the economy has recovered by significant steps after months of confinement, Democratic state policies are still pulling the economy back and slowing the normal growth process. 

Many Americans are still looking for jobs that should not be replaced by immigrants, simply because employers pay less for their services. 

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