Trump orders review of visa program to encourage hiring Americans
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 19, 2017,
Apr 19, 2017, 17:00
Defending the H1-B system, many US technology firms said that they cannot find enough skilled American workers, arguing that scrapping the program could cause foreign students studying math and science in the United Sates to leave the country after finishing college or graduate school.
President Donald Trump heads to Ryan's congressional district in Wisconsin on Tuesday. "Instead, they should be given to most skilled and highest paid applicants and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans".
The executive order will stop short of the one- to two-year moratorium on new skilled worker visas that Trump called for during the campaign. The H1-B visa program is meant to bring skilled workers in certain fields to the U.S., but the administration contended that employers have abused the program to hire workers who will accept cheaper pay than Americans.
Their business models could be affected by any changes to the H-1B system. None responded to requests for comment. The waivers could be renegotiated or revoked if they are not perceived as benefiting the United States.
The US president can not, by a simple decree, change the number of visas allocated.
The visit to the politically crucial state that helped carry Trump to a shocking electoral victory in November comes as Trump approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency - and Trump is eager to show signs of success and action. With his attempts to overhaul healthcare and tax law stalled in Congress, Trump has leaned heavily on executive orders to change policy.
The CEO of Snap-On, the manufacturer Trump will visit on Tuesday, said in a statement he believes "the President's visit emphasizes the need to nurture (US) manufacturing strength". Wisconsin unexpectedly voted for the Republican a year ago, partly due to his promises to bring back industrial jobs.
The order he will sign on Tuesday will call for "the strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the United States of labor from overseas for the stated objective of creating higher wages and higher employment rates for workers in the United States", one of the senior officials said. The Chamber of Commerce added that it would be a "mistake to close the door on high-skilled workers" who can contribute to the growth and expansion of American businesses and make the US more competitive around the world. According to the Labor Department, the top three H-1B occupations are computer systems analysts, application software developers and computer programmers - and those three account for roughly half of the department's H-1B certifications. The government uses a lottery to award 65,000 visas yearly and randomly distributes another 20,000 to graduate student workers. The program is popular with the information technology industry, which Trump has accused of "importing low-wage workers on H-1B visas to take jobs from young college-trained Americans".
"Right now, widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries", Trump said. Recipients can stay up to six years.
NASSCOM, the Indian IT service industry's main lobby group, said it supports efforts to root out any abuses occurring in the H-1B system, but said the idea that H-1B visa holders are cheap labor is inaccurate.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Washington in February to be open minded on admitting skilled Indian workers.
These visas, known as H-1B, aren't supposed to displace American workers.
But he added that "some of the ideas that have been suggested, such as requiring applicants to advertise job openings for an extended period of time to prove conclusively that no US workers are available could be so onerous that it renders the program ineffective".
According to data by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, employers submitted 199,000 visa applications against 236,000 applications previous year.
The executive order, dubbed "Buy American and Hire American", also aims to change rules for government purchases to give priority to American products.