Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
USA | By Angel Wallace

Trump order would target high skilled worker visa program

Trump order would target high skilled worker visa program

It will become harder for Indians to get H-1B visa as the United States President Donald Trump will sign on Tuesday an executive order to direct the federal agencies asking them to recommend changes in the temporary visa programme that is used to hire foreign employees to the U.S. for filling the high-skilled jobs.

Trump will sign the order during a visit to Wisconsin tools manufacturer Snap-on, two senior Administration officials said Monday on the condition of anonymity.

The order calls for a review of the H-1B visa program for the purposes of reforming it.

Officials clarified that the executive order does not aim to take direct action to fundamentally change either portion, but to initiate a series of reviews and assessments and call on federal departments to start suggesting changes to the programs.

The tech industry has argued as well that the H-1B program is needed because it encourages students to stay in the US after getting degrees in high-tech specialties - and they can't always find enough American workers with the skills they need. Companies in the technology sector in particular rely on guest workers using the H-1B visas. "The world of work has changed dramatically since the H-1B program was last reformed nearly 20 years ago".

The official criticized the H-1B system for awarding visas randomly, without taking into account an applicant's skill or salary level. It would also give the Labor Department more power to investigate and sanction H-1B abuses and give "the best and brightest" foreign students studying in the US priority in getting H-1B visas.

USCIS announced April 17 that the number of H-1B visa petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2018 fell below 200,000 this year for the first time since 2014.

The officials said 80 percent of the immigrants who enter the U.S. under the current visa program are paid less than the median wage for workers in their fields.

Senior officials at all agencies involved in the reviews covered by the executive orders will be held "strictly accountable" for finding administrative solutions to immigration and procurement procedures that have undercut United States wages and job opportunities.

"We are finally standing up for our workers and for our companies", Trump said on Tuesday adding that the order "declares that American projects should be made with American goods". Several bills have been proposed in Congress to end the lottery system.

Stating that it will wait for details of specific proposals under consideration, Nasscom pointed out that the current campaign to discredit the over Dollars 110 billion Indian IT sector is driven by "persistent myths". Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Washington in February to be open minded on admitting skilled Indian workers.

India's No. 2 IT Services firm, Infosys, has said it is ramping up work on on-site development centers in the United States to train local talent in an effort to address the visa regulation changes under consideration.

During the campaign, Trump railed against free-trade deals, outsourcing of and the death of American manufacturing in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

He said replacing the H-1B lottery with a more merit-based system could advance the program's goals of attracting people with advanced science and technology skills.

This includes looking at America's free trade agreements to make sure they meet the standard of "fair and reciprocal" - meaning, another senior administration official explained, "we shouldn't be a net loser in the government procurement game by entering into these waivers".

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