WASHINGTON – A group of information technology companies filed a lawsuit Friday night challenging the Trump administration’s rule on raising wages that employers must pay their foreign workers on H-1B visas aimed at strengthening the right to obtain visas.
Last week, the Trump administration began a long-awaited review of the H-1B visa program for highly skilled workers, a program highly valued by US high-tech firms and other employers.
One part of this update, issued by the Ministry of Labor, came into force last Thursday, bypassing the usual period of public comment. The department’s rule significantly increases the minimum wage that companies must pay to their H-1B employees.
The lawsuit filed by ITServe Alliance, a trading group representing information companies, was filed against the agency in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey.
“Without giving prior notice and without giving plaintiffs or the general public the opportunity to comment, the Ministry of Labor has drastically changed the way in which the preferential wage rates under the H-1B program are calculated,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit alleges that the Trump administration reduced the situation by issuing an emergency rule instead of conducting a full analysis of its impact on current visa holders and the economy, and incorporating potential changes based on public feedback.
The Department of Labor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Separate lawsuits against another set of rules issued by the Ministry of National Security are expected in the coming weeks. These rules restrict the right to obtain an H-1B visa and shorten its validity for certain contractors. This rule takes effect in December.
Under the new Ministry of Labor’s wage requirements, which are based on job and location wage surveys, companies will be required to pay entry-level workers a 45th percentile compared to their current commitment of at least the 17th percentile. Top-level employees who currently need to receive a salary of the 67th percentile will have to be paid a salary in the 95th.
For example, an entry-level electrical engineer in San Jose, California, according to the Department of Labor, will be paid at least $ 127,042 against $ 88,712 before the new rule takes effect.
So far, the new rule has affected only a small proportion of H-1B owners – only those who are in the early stages of applying for renewal. However, if it remains in place, it could have a significant impact on smaller firms, such as technology startups, which have limited cash to pay higher wages.
Write Michelle Hackman at Michelle.Hackman@wsj.com
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