Aijaz Rahi / AP File Photo

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced new measures to rein in abuse of the H-1B program.

The agency will take "a more targeted approach" when making site visits to focus on employers who "are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers."

Starting Monday, USCIS will focus site visits on:

  • Cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer's basic business information through commercially available data
  • H-1B-dependent employers — or employers who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers
  • Employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization's location

Why it matters: The Trump administration is making good on its promise to address fraud and abuse of the H-1B program by trying to weed out the employer applicants that rely heavily on temporary visas to fill their staffs. The newly-announced measures will hit hardest the India-based outsourcing companies that apply for large numbers of visas to help supplement IT departments at major U.S. corporations. These kinds of outsourcing firms caught Trump's ire on the campaign trail when companies such as Disney and Southern California Edison laid off workers and were said to replace them with foreign workers.

"The H-1B visa program should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country," said USCIS in a press release on Monday, when the lottery for H-1B visas was already underway. "Yet, too many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged."

One-two punch: Over the weekend, USCIS quietly announced changes to the eligibility of some lower-level computer professionals, giving the agency more discretion to require additional proof that "computer programmers" are high-skilled and high-paid enough to qualify for the sought-after visas.

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - World

2 Lebanese ministers and 9 lawmakers resign days after deadly explosion

Anti-government protesters in Beirut. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lebanon’s information and environment ministers resigned Sunday in the wake of massive protests over the deadly blast in Beirut's port last week, per AP.

Why it matters: In her resignation letter, Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad called change "elusive" and apologized for not delivering more to the country, which had been devastated by a financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic even before the blast destroyed much of the capital city.

Updated 27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 19,863,850 — Total deaths: 731,374 — Total recoveries — 12,117,346Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,044,864 — Total deaths: 162,938 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on unemployment — Mnuchin says Trump executive orders were cleared by Justice Department.
  4. States: New York reports lowest rate of positive coronavirus test results since pandemic began
  5. Public health: Ex-FDA head: U.S. will "definitely" see 200,000 to 300,000 virus deaths by end of 2020. 
  6. Schools: 97,000 children test positive for coronavirus in two weeks — Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral .
Updated 1 hour ago - World

Police and protesters clash in Belarus after "Europe's last dictator" claims election win

Protesters and riot police clash in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday during a demonstration against President Alexander Lukashenko's claim of a landslide victory. Photo: Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

Riot police clashed with protesters in Belarus overnight after a government exit poll predicted Sunday President Aleksander Lukashenko, an authoritarian who has ruled the Eastern European country since 1994, had overwhelmingly defeated a pro-democracy opposition candidate.

Why it matters: It's a precarious moment for the former Soviet republic, where decades of repression and a complete disregard for the coronavirus pandemic threaten to topple "Europe's last dictator." There were reports of police in Minsk using excessive force on protesters in a brutal crackdown.