Silicon Valley braces for new Trump H-1B rules that set $208,000 salary floor

H-1B visas, issued to help companies find workers with specific skills, must be reauthorized under a set of common circumstances. And those existing visas, not just newly issued ones, will be subject to new requirements that narrow eligibility for “specialty occupations” and, according to one analysis, substantially increase the minimum salary level to $208,000.

Times when workers could hit the new obstacles include: when they renew their H-1Bs, as required after three years, after six years, and then annually; if they apply for a green card; if they get a new job offer; if they receive a promotion; and if they change their work location — including returning to the office after working from home, something that will happen often as the pandemic continues.

“Ultimately this will affect 100% of H-1B visa holders,” said Liz Stern, a partner and head of the immigration practice at Mayer Brown in Washington, which this week filed an amicus brief on behalf of Twitter and other companies in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Council and many business groups challenging the new rules. “It is disenfranchising H-1B workers from continuing to work.”

The new rules seem intended “to price H-1B visa holders and potential green card recipients out of the U.S. labor market by inflating the salaries employers are required to pay,” said an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy.

Stuart Anderson, executive director of the foundation, said it found that the new minimum mandate will be $208,000, or $100 an hour, for thousands of occupations and geographies, including software developers, the most common occupation among people applying for employment-based green cards.

Even in well-paid Silicon Valley, that’s a stretch. A San Jose area employer would need to pay a top-level electrical engineer 53% more than the market wage shown in private wage surveys, the analysis said — nearly $85,000 extra in annual salary. And the same salary would be required in other areas — such as Battle Creek, Mich.; Lebanon, Penn.; Reno and Merced — where wages are much lower. Read more via SFChronicle