February 3, 2021
On January 25, 2021, the Biden Administration issued an executive order titled “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers,” which revokes several Trump Administration executive orders, including “Buy American and Hire American” (BAHA). The order seeks to maximize the number of investments in American-owned businesses made by the federal government through the establishment of a “Made in America Office” within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but additionally has some important immigration-related benefits.
“Buy American and Hire American,” issued on April 18, 2017, sought to restrict the H-1B specialty occupation program by directing USCIS to prioritize the highest paid and most skilled foreign workers. H-1B visas are capped at 85,000 per fiscal year. As applications far exceed the cap, a randomized lottery has been conducted for the past several years. Under BAHA, USCIS sought to make changes to increase the likelihood that higher paid individuals and those with graduate degrees would be selected in the lottery, effectively penalizing smaller businesses and businesses in rural areas.
Revoking BAHA ensures that the H-1B program will be restored to its original purpose of filling needs in the U.S. workforce in critical fields, including IT, healthcare, and education, rather than focusing on industries and companies that can afford to pay the highest wages.
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