Trump orders overhaul of H-1B visa system


The executive order specifically targets the H-1B visa program, which allows 85,000 foreign workers into the United States each year to take specific high-skilled jobs with US companies.

Trump went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday where he signed an order dubbed "Buy American, Hire American", ordering the Labour, Justice and Homeland Security Departments to propose reforms to the visa programme to prevent immigration fraud and abuse. When the federal government will require bills or funds for a project, the "buy American" laws will ensure that domestic goods and products will be used.

The technology industry relies heavily on the H-1B visa program to bring in engineering talent from overseas, and executives say they simply can not hire enough American workers to fill jobs at their companies.

"The H-1B visa program is important to colleges both because many worldwide students look to it as a route to permanent residency in the US and because universities use H-1Bs to hire postdoctoral researchers and others from overseas", Inside Higher Ed noted.

A senior Trump administration official argued on Monday that the H-1B visas are supposed to be awarded to highly qualified workers, but often bring in less skilled employees who earn lower wages than those they are meant to replace. The officials said the commerce secretary will review how to close loopholes in enforcing the existing rules and provide recommendations to the president.

Trump asked U.S. secretary of state, attorney general, secretary of labour and secretary of homeland security "to suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid beneficiaries".

And while he has long pledged to support American goods and workers, his own business record is mixed.

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"As an American I've seen more done in two months then I have in the prior two administrations, actually promises", Trump Jr. said.

But Schott says other countries would likely respond to stricter Buy American policies by making it harder for USA companies to bid on foreign government contracts. The executive order focuses on the H-1B visa for people working in specialty occupations.

President Trump visited a toolmaking plant in Wisconsin today.

The loss of the H-1B program could also have an impact on the country's economy, as employers may be unable to fill coveted positions with applicants who possess the right work history and education.

Nonetheless, whilst the United States are intending to limit the number of foreign workers and promote USA workers, Canada is now taking full advantage, implementing a rapid work-permit for highly skilled workers to gain access to the Canadian market, providing a suitable lure for highly skilled workers from overseas. Under several free-trade deals " including the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Government Procurement " contractors from 59 countries have the right to be treated the same as USA companies when it comes to many federal contracts.

Those in agreement with the current H-1B policies argue that the present system is very much needed to fill hiring gaps in industries vital to the USA economy, especially when it comes to tech and manufacturing jobs.

Critics say the programme has been hijacked by staffing companies that use the visas to import foreigners who will work for less than Americans.