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Trump to seek changes in visa program to encourage hiring Americans

20 April 2017

The order, in part, takes aim at the H-1B visa program, which admits 85,000 immigrants each year mostly to work in high-tech jobs that companies say are hard to fill with Americans.

The "Buy American" portion of the order will tighten the waivers and exemptions that agencies use to get around procurement laws that favor American-made goods, and require agency heads to sign off on those waivers.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that the executive order "will make significant progress towards 'Buy American and Hire American, ' the cornerstone of Trump's vision for a government that answers to the American workers who built this country".

In the upcoming executive order, Trump is expected to have the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that issues the H-1B visa, to further review their conditions for awarding.

Terming the proposed changes as forward-looking and non-specific, Nasscom said any move to replace the existing lottery system to select the H-1B applicants based on most skilled or highest paid would have intended consequences.

Meanwhile, Trump's visit to Kenosha brought hundreds of protestors, who gathered outside of Snap-on to demand that he releases his tax returns and criticised some of his policies, including a plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

Trump, during his presidential campaign, had called for a moratorium on H1-B visas, however, the executive order does not impose any such ban.

US carrier heading toward Korean Peninsula
But Pence said forcefully responding to chemical attacks from President Bashar al-Assad's regime was the correct thing to do. Tensions between the two nations have been fraught throughout Trump's presidency of nearly three months.

Trump says the order sends a "powerful signal to the world" that the USA will defend its workers, protect their jobs and put America first. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump wanted to visit "a company that builds American-made tools with American workers". Critics of the program claim staffing companies are undercutting American wages by using the visas to recruit foreign labor and then contracting those workers to large companies.

Trump criticized the visa program, determined by a lottery, as an off-the-rails initiative that has driven down wages for American workers in the same fields.

"The idea that Donald Trump is dramatically turning his back on his "America first" policy as well as his comment that the dollar is "too strong" are hurting the U.S. currency", Lawler said. The new order poses particular problems for India, which sends the maximum H-1B workers to the US.

Current rules associated with America's trade deals and immigration policies unfairly place American companies and workers at a disadvantage.

With the order, Trump is formally calling for the secretary of commerce and the USA trade representative to assess "the impacts of all US free trade agreements" as part of the new plan.

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 USA and because universities use H-1Bs to hire postdoctoral researchers and others from overseas.

In short, the order aims at cracking down on skilled worker visa abuse and forces the government agencies to buy more domestically produced products. After payment of an additional 1,225 US dollars in charge, USCIS responds typically in 15 calendar days, whereas standard H-1B petitions may take anywhere between three to six months to receive a judgement.