H1B season is upon us, and as employers everywhere get ready to throw their petition into the ring for a lottery number, eyes turn on one Presidential candidate’s possible abuse of the system. Mr. Trump has been mostly critical of the H1B Visa program although he did appear to swerve back and forth on the issue in one recent GOP debate. Now it appears Mr. Trump’s modeling agency has profited greatly from the H1B program and may have violated federal law in the process, according to CNN. On Trump’s website he states “These are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay. I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H-1B abuse.” Federal law lumps fashion models in with other specialized highly skilled workers that meet the requirements for the H-1B visa. The use of this visa by Trump Model Management, founded by Trump in 1999, is being questioned.
A former Jamaican model Alexia Palmer was brought to the country on an H-1B visa and has begun a proposed class action lawsuit against the Trump agency after they failed to pay her the minimum agreed upon Salary in her employment agreement and H1-B Visa application. Data shows that Trump’s modeling agency has brought in at least 30 foreign models on the H1-B visa, all of which had minimum compensation of $75,000 annual salary. However in Mrs. Palmer’s case, she only wound up receiving roughly $3,000 in compensation over 3 years. USCIS confirmed that a sponsoring company “must pay the actual wage or the prevailing wage, whichever is higher”, which means it was illegal to pay Mrs. Palmer below either listed wage. This appears to be just the latest of a long line of sketchy Trump business scams and failures. For now, however, Americans don’t seem to care as he continues to dominate the GOP polls.