Oct. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. employers looking to temporarily hire skilled foreign workers will now have to meet tougher standards after the Trump administration announced new visa restrictions.
The new rules for H-1B visas -- ordered by the departments of Labor and Homeland Security -- will force employers to commit to higher salaries for those they want to hire -- and their visa applications must specify the "specialty occupation" they will fill.
The rules could also shorten stays for foreign workers, as well.
"The H-1B program was intended to allow employers to fill gaps in their workforce and remain competitive in the global economy, however, it has now expanded far beyond that, often to the detriment of U.S. workers," the Homeland Security Department said in a statement Tuesday.
"Data shows that more than a half-million H-1B nonimmigrants in the United States have been used to displace U.S. workers."
The H-1B program was introduced in 1990 under former President George H.W. Bush and allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or prior experience.
The visa allows workers to remain in the United States for between three and six years. The number of H-1B visas issued each year varies, but more than 188,000 were given in 2019.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the new rules aim to ensure U.S. workers are "put first" and prevent companies from "using foreign workers as a low-cost alternative."
"We have entered an era in which economic security is an integral part of homeland security," he said.
The rule changes are expected to take effect in 60 days.