Behind the visa program targeted by Trump

Judith Bessette
Abril 19, 2017

Trump is to sign the order when he visits the world headquarters of Snap-On Inc, a tool manufacturer in Kenosha, Wis.

Trump plans to sign an order in Wisconsin to tighten rules on technology companies bringing in highly skilled foreign workers.

The senior official said that under the current system foreign workers are often brought in at less pay to replace American workers, "violating the principle of the programme". That's a criticism that has also been widely made by outside analysts.

"This [executive order] would apply across the board, but in particular, the executive order has an additional clause on the H-1B visa programme, and calls on those same four departments to put forward reforms to see to it that H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest-paid applicants", the official said.

USA president Donald Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" campaign promise is being implemented.

"This is a transitional step to get toward a more skills-based and merit-based immigration system", the official said. To meet the goal of hiring more USA citizens, the decree orders a study of fraud and abuse of the H-1B visa program. Chuck Grassley, would require companies seeking H-1B visas to first make a good-faith effort to hire Americans, a requirement many companies can dodge under the current system; 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.

According to Recode: "The Justice Department, meanwhile, issued a stern warning to companies in April, stressing it would "not tolerate employers misusing the H1B visa process to discriminate against USA workers".

Instead of directly ordering a change to the H-1B visa programme, Trump is taking a more cautious route that will likely take some time to produce actual results. H-1B visa applications fell to 199,000 this year from 236,000 last year, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"We've never had a systematic review like this", the official said.

He campaigned a year ago on promises to overhaul USA trade and regulatory policy, but his executive orders on those issues reflect the administration bowing somewhat to the limits of presidential power.

France's would-be presidents rally in Paris days before vote
Homan, who worked overnight for Brexit and the USA election, has no similar plans yet for the first round of the French vote. A protest is also expected in the southern port of Marseille on Wednesday where Le Pen plans another large rally.

"It would further call on the departments of Labour, Justice, Homeland Security and State to take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse, which should both be understood as separate problems, in our immigration system in order to protect workers in the United States and their economic conditions", the official asserted.

The executive order signed by Mr. Trump will call for the strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the USA of labour from overseas, for the stated goal of creating higher wages and higher employment rates for workers in America, the official said.

The ideas that the H-1B visa program is "limiting American jobs is a fallacy", Foundation Capital General Partner Paul Holland told CNBC on Tuesday.

"You're creating an entirely new structure for awarding these visas".

According to the senior administration official, these reforms were broadly supported by groups that represent American workers in the United States, and that a lot of the driving action historically for these kinds of guest-worker reforms have been from groups that in fact even tilt Democratic.

Indian nationals are by far the largest group of recipients of the H-1B visas issued each year to new applicants. Almost 70% of all H-1B visas go to Indian workers.

Mirroring Trump's America, even Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has issued an order that revokes the popular 457 visa scheme, mostly availed by Indians, to work as a foreigner in Australia. He at first said the visas "decimate" American workers and depress USA wages, but later seemed to flip-flop on the issue. It grants 65,000 visas every year while another 20,000 are set aside for those with USA advanced degrees. "I mean, it is a completely - it is a total transformation of the H-1B program", he said.

Trump said at one point during the presidential campaign that he supported high-skilled visas, then said he opposed the program.

Other possible reforms include raising fees for the visas.

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