The Trump Administration's H-1B Visa Changes Are Creating Uncertainty Among Employers
Trump signed a "Buy American, Hire American" executive order on Tuesday, promising to protect US workers by overhauling the H-1B visa program that is used mainly by Indian engineers and developers.
The order directs all government agencies to review the H-1B temporary visa program as part of Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" policy.
On H-1B, which would be of immediate concern to Indians, the order said it would be policy of the administration to rigorously enforce and administer laws regarding foreign workers "in order to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests".
The new order would direct USA agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the program.
The President said H1B visas should be given to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never be used to replace Americans.
"There are likely provisions in it to make sure H-1B visas are going to their intended objective and are not being abused by corporations to down cut American wages and cause layoffs and unemployment", Wolf said.
That emphasis, on the most highly skilled workers, could actually have the potential to benefit foreign graduates of American colleges.
There's an annual quota of 85,000 new H-1B visas (with 20,000 reserved for Master's degree holders).
The order targets the H1-B visa program, which allows US companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations like IT, engineering, mathematics and science. In addition, the review of the H-1B visa process might also affect how well foreign workers are paid. A majority of the H-1B visas, however, are given to overseas companies that then send workers to American companies.
"In particular, they say there's a shortage of science, technology, engineering and math talent in the US - especially with higher degrees like Masters and PhD.s". "For far too long the H-1B visa has been abused by some as a cheap way to replace American workers".
Trump said the order would "aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job".
Trump said he hopes his new executive order puts a stop to this.
"For a president who has prided himself on his swift action when it comes to immigration, an interagency review of the program is a guarded and timid approach. No one can compete with American workers when they're given a fair and level playing field, which has not happened for decades", Trump said. "It's been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we're going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all".
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".
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