Donald Trump orders review of visa program to encourage hiring Americans

H-1B Visa

Trump signed an executive order on enforcing and reviewing the H-1B visa, popular in the technology industry, on a visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, as a first step towards reforming the visa regime.

The executive orders were signed a day after the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has completed the computerised lottery draw of 199,000 H1-B visa applications it received for the fiscal year 2018 beginning October 1 this year. Trump wants to tighten some of the rules in the program to "prevent fraud or abuse".

The document also directed government institutions to review current procurement requirements and step up the effort to limit government purchase to USA made goods.

The H-1B visa programme allows numerous country's biggest tech firms and other multinationals to bring foreign workers to the U.S., but federal bodies will now be instructed to crack down on abuse of the programme.

Observing that salary levels as the metric was not the best indicator of benefits to the U.S. economy, it said unless a system that reflects variations in prevailing wages across the USA was considered, it could advantage certain regions such as the Silicon Valley over other regions in of the US.

Nasscom reiterated the point that persistent myths surrounding H-1B visas as cheap labour or displacing American workers as inaccurate.

"A really clever idea would be something like if you're going to get an H-1B visa, then you hire an apprentice in an equivalent job and use the funding that comes off the (H-1B training fee) in the retraining of those workers", Schutzler proposed. Interest in the H-1B program remains high, as visa applications reached their annual cap within five business days, though this interest could stem from people striving to secure a visa before policy shifts are introduced.

The move is a deterrent to Indian IT firms which send software engineers to the U.S. on H-1B visas.

"They (visas) should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans".

And of the three outsourcing firms called out above, a senior government official said, "Those three companies are companies that have an average wage for H-1B visas between $60,000 and $65,000".

And your second question: What about jobs for American workers - does this help them? They insist that they do not hire these workers so they can pay them less. An administration official told reporters on Monday that 80% of the immigrants who enter the USA on H-1B visas are paid less than the median wage in their fields.

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