Donald Trump signs executive order to reform H-1B visas

Posted April 21, 2017

Trump and other critics of the program say it is abused by those Indian firms, who - they claim - flood the visa lottery with applications and then send workers to the US on salaries that undercut their American counterparts.

Trump signed the order targeting the programme popular with Indian technology professionals at the Kenosha, Wisconsin headquarters of tool maker Snap-on Inc yesterday. However, Turnbull said that more restrictions will be imposed to ensure that workers are brought from outside only to fill the skill gap in order to create more job opportunities for the Australian citizens.

The order directs agencies to enforce government rules on excluding foreign contractors from bids for government projects.

He announced that the government is about to take "bold, new steps" to follow through on his pledge to "Buy American and Hire American".

Around 85,000 foreign workers are admitted to the USA each year under the current H-1B visa programme, with most coming to work in high-skill industries.

Mr Trump's wife Melania used an H-1B visa in her early days as a model in NY, says the BBC's Gary O'Donoghue in Washington.

The Trump administration rolled out policy shifts earlier this month to begin cracking down on the H-1B visa system. The EO calls for the application of existing US laws to visa recipients and the re-evaluation of the H-1B program. In putting pen to paper on this matter, Trump is looking to bring to fruition his campaign promise to support domestic blue-collar workers and United States job creation.

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The government allows 85,000 immigrants each year through the H-1B visa programme, which is reserved for foreign nationals in "specialty occupations" and is largely used by the technology industry. To qualify for the visa, workers usually must have a bachelor's degree or higher.

H-1B workers are also vital to the healthcare system, and to manufacturing and energy industries, he said.

Under the new order, the H-1B visa would no longer serve as a cheap way for companies to replace U.S. workers, the official added.

The Labor Department said it will investigate H-1B program violators, revise a part of the visa application process to enhance its transparency and continue to work with stakeholders to further protect American workers, possibly with legislative changes.

"Right now, H-1B visas are being awarded in a totally random lottery, and that's wrong".

A majority of them work in the tech sector - some for USA firms, others for Indian outsourcing companies such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, who provide services for huge swathes of corporate America.

"If it turns out America is a net loser because of those free-trade agreement waivers, which apply to nearly 60 countries, these waivers may be promptly renegotiated or revoked", a second official said.