Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

Trump Directs Review of H-1B Visas

This is his first trip since becoming president to the state that helped him clinch the election. The move is set to moderately affect the Indian tech industry. As he nears the 100-day benchmark of his presidency, Trump has no major legislative achievements to tout but has used executive orders to seek regulatory changes to help the USA economy. The manufacturer of high-end tools and equipment employs approximately 11,500 people worldwide, according to its website.

Such a change could significantly impact large Indian IT companies which bring thousands of engineers and programmers on H-1B visas to work on U.S. projects, says IT analyst Girish Pai. Trump also seeks changes in government procurement that would boost purchases of American products in federal contracts, with one aim being to help USA steelmakers. The commerce secretary will review how to tighten existing rules and provide recommendations to the president.

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

The trip to Wisconsin marked Trump's first visit to Speaker Paul Ryan's home state and district since taking office. "Again, this is principally for research jobs and product launches that are really essential for helping to grow the industry and more jobs for Americans". Trump changed his position on both issues in interviews last week.

The number of requests for H-1B visas declined this year by about 15 percent, or roughly 37,000 applications, but the total was still almost 200,000, far more than the 85,000 limit. In an announcement, the White House said H-1B visas should bring the highly talented and paid work to the United States. But Trump says companies exploit the system to the disadvantage of American workers. His businesses also have hired foreign workers, including at his Palm Beach, Fla., club.

Throughout his election campaign, Trump pushed the "Buy American, hire American" maxim and prefers to move towards a merit-based visa system, which only encourages the most-talented workers from overseas to come.

At one debate, he called for fully ending the programme, saying: "It's very bad for our workers and it's unfair for our workers. And we should end it". "There is a lot we can do administratively, and the rest will be done hopefully legislatively". Many go to technology companies, which argue that the United States has a shortage of skilled technology workers. The staffing companies then sell their services to corporate clients.

"Instead", he added, "they should be given to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans". US workers are sometimes asked to train their replacements to qualify for severance packages. "Nothing is being proposed that would impact or change the FY18 H-1B lottery that is now underway", Nasscom said in a statement.

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