Trump Administration Goes After H-1B Visa Program

Cheryl Sanders
April 26, 2017

PRESIDENT Donald Trump signed an executive order this week that may affect the H-1B visa system, a non-immigrant visa program that allows US employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis. Trump has signed the order focusing on the program prevalent with Indian technology professionals at the Kenosha, Wisconsin central command of tool maker Snap-on Inc 18 April.

The order will be signed on the same day that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a major overhaul of Australia's visa programme for skilled foreign workers.

"I'm grateful that President Trump has taken my suggestions to heart by taking steps today to protect American workers and preserve limited H-1B visas for truly qualified, high-skilled foreign workers", said Grassley in a statement. It also tightens enforcement of federal contracting rules that mandate American-made products be used for certain projects. "Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants and they should never ever be used to replace Americans", said the USA president in Wisconsin.

Will the order change the H-1B visa programme?

But critics say the program has been hijacked by staffing companies that use the visas to import foreigners - often from India - who will work for less than Americans. Because of the high demand, a lottery system is used to pick qualifying petitions.

"Buy American" requirements that are written into USA law "have been gutted", he said, by loopholes, allowing too many contracts to go to overseas bidders. The H-1B visa program allots temporary visa to foreign workers with specialized skills to fill in some gaps in the working industry, mostly in IT and Engineering, according to Business Insider.

The order aligns with President Trump's promise as a candidate to review visa programs to prioritize the goal of "Buy American, Hire American", even as the president's own company, the Trump Organization, has not always done so.

Not all market players in the US may be on board with the policy. "Workers are often brought in well below market rates to replace American workers", the official said. - Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor to the President for PolicyThe press release is in fact titled Senior Administration Officials Praise President Donald J. Trump's Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, perhaps because Executive Order Praised By White House Staffers Who Would Be Fired If They Didn't was a bit too on-the-nose. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it received 199,000 applications for the fiscal year that begins on October 1.

The order doesn't seem to change the status of existing visa waiver rules in the United States and instead orders departments to review and identify potential "abuses" of the visa waiver system.

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