US President Donald Trump signs order to review H-1B visa programme

Audrey Hill
April 20, 2017

United States President Donald Trump has ordered a review of the USA visa program for bringing high-skilled foreign workers into the country, mirroring the sentiment of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's move to abolish the 457 visa.

President Donald Trump signed a "Buy American" executive order in Wisconsin on Tuesday.

H-1B visas "should include only the most skilled and highest-paid applicants and should never, ever be used to replace American workers", he told a gathering of about 500 workers and local luminaries, including the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, a Kenosha native.

On April 18, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) titled "Buy American and Hire American".

It directs federal agencies to propose reforms to the H-1B program that prevents the displacement of American workers.

"Currently, companies routinely abuse the H-1B visa programme by replacing American workers with lower paid foreign workers", it said.

The tech sector for decades has lobbied to increase the number of H-1B visas.

Nationwide, demand for H-1B visas has outstripped supply.

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However, one fact remains that none of these measures will actually protect the American workers unless they are applicable to all companies because Indian companies are the only ones covered by numerous legislation - contemplated as well as existing, and account for only 20 percent of the visas.

"As much as industry claims they are not using H-1B visas for cheap labor, in reality, this is what they care about - the lower cost", said Ron Hira, a public policy professor at Howard University who specializes in the issue.

The Trump administration rolled out policy shifts earlier this month to begin cracking down on the H-1B visa system.

"As the process goes forward we believe that a more thoughtful and a more logical approach is desirable, keeping in view the impact on American businesses", Chandrashekhar said. "They voted to bring back their jobs, and to bring back their dreams into our country", Trump said.

Last year, Disney was accused of taking advantage of the H-1B visa scheme to lay off American technology workers, who were forced to train their foreign replacements. An executive order signed this week by President Trump is a small step toward cleaning up the mess, but it is only the first step down what likely will be a long road.

The Government uses a lottery to award 65,000 visas yearly and randomly distributes another 20,000 to graduate student workers. That program allows employers to go outside the USA workforce to find workers with "highly specialized knowledge".

Instead of bold action promised previous year by then-candidate Trump on the North American Free Trade Agreement, on China, and free trade agreements, the new administration has "not shown much evidence of doing so", said KeyBanc Capital Markets steel analyst Philip Gibbs.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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