President Trump is going to sign an executive order to review the temporary visa program that places foreign workers in high-skilled U.S. jobs.
The so-called “Buy America, Hire America” order is aimed at fulfilling the “America First” campaign promises. It will also direct agencies to enforce government laws that would exclude foreign workers to apply for government projects.
The move is still way short of Trump’s campaign promise of ending H-1B visa program. He’ll direct the Department of State, Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor to propose reforms for the program, which allows American employers to bring foreign workers for U.S. jobs. These four departments will then submit their findings to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and a report would be released in 220 days.
Disney was accused last year of taking advantage of the H-1B visa program to replace American workers with foreigners, and American technology workers were forced to train their replacements.
A total of 85,000 immigrants are allowed by the government through this program every year; a majority of these visas are taken up the technology industry.
The number of applicants for H-1B visa have increased in recent years, but this year saw a decline when the number of applicants fell to 199,000 from 236,000 in 2016, as per the statistics from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
A senior official in the Trump administration said on Monday that the H-1B visas are being used to bring in less skilled employees, and the new order would ensure that only highly qualified workers are granted a visa, and U.S. companies don’t use it as a cheap way to replace American workers.
The order is going to have a direct impact on Indian technology industry, as Indian nationals have been the largest group of recipients of the H-1B visa every year.
The executive order will review waivers in free-trade-agreements, and also see whether they allow American companies to be undermined by foreign firms in the global government procurement market.
Reuters quoted a second official as saying:
“If it turns out America is a net loser because of those free-trade agreement waivers, which apply to almost 60 countries, these waivers may be promptly renegotiated or revoked.”
The new directive would be unveiled by the President on Tuesday on his visit to Snap-On Inc., a tool factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin.