Trump takes aim at H-1B visa program

Danny Woods
April 20, 2017

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday titled "Buy American, Hire American" while on a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he called on federal agencies to overhaul the H-1B visa program.

Donald Trump announced a new executive order directing government agencies to "buy American and hire American", but immediately faced accusations of hypocrisy for failing to do so himself. "And it directs the federal government to fully enforce federal guidelines prioritizing the use of American firms and goods in federal projects".

"We are sending a powerful signal to the world: We're going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first", said Trump at Snap-On in Wisconsin Such a move would ensure businesses put USA workers first and reduce the abuse of the current visa program. "So they've said before and they said again after [Tuesday's] executive order that they're doubling-down on training and they're trying to find American talent, but not having enough luck".

Indian IT firms, however, put a courageous face to the impending changes being mooted by the US. "It should be about value added and contribution", said Sam Wolf, president of Vanderbilt College Republicans. The executive order focuses on the H-1B visa for people working in specialty occupations.

Chandrasekhar said the executive order has two parts to it - first part of the order talks of compliance provisions, and a change in this could make it tough for companies to operate but not a cause of concern for Indian IT companies because they comply with the rules.

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They say that takes work away from Americans and lowers wages. No longer are programmers with just a bachelor's degree eligible for the visas automatically - instead, applicants applying for tech jobs will have to provide supplemental materials if they don't have a professional degree.

Last year, it generated $64.8bn of revenue.

Critics say the lottery benefits outsourcing firms that flood the system with mass applications for visas for lower-paid information technology workers.

The four departments will then submit their findings to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and release a report in 220 days. It urges these departments to propose reforms to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid applicant, reported Reuters. Other visa programs, like the H-2B seasonal worker visa that Trump himself uses to staff his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., will be largely unaffected. Currently, the cap on H1-B visas stands at 65,000, out of which 25,000-35,000 are issued to Indian nationals. More than 15 percent of Facebook Inc's (FB.O) U.S. employees in 2016 used a temporary work visa, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. Labor Department filings.

The Order also targets the abusive use of waivers and exceptions that undermine "Buy American" laws meant to promote taxpayer money going to American companies.

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