Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Culture | By Julio Duncan

Trump orders review of visa program for highly skilled workers

Read: Trump to sign "Buy American, Hire American" executive orders.

This is his first trip since becoming president to the state that helped him clinch the election.

A majority of them work in the tech sector - some for US firms, others for Indian outsourcing companies such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, who provide services for huge swathes of corporate America. However, others say updating the definition of "skilled" labor under H-1B will ensure visas attract high-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers, Forbes reports.

An analysis released by AP on Tuesday showed computer science hires - who make up three-quarters of the H-1B recipients receive about 9% less, on average, than U.S. workers with similar positions.

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 also wants to toughen up the requirement that American-made goods be used in certain federal construction projects or in highway projects that are paid for with federal grants. The Secretary of Commerce will be tasked with streamlining the existing rules.

The order specifically asks the secretary to review waivers of these rules in free-trade agreements.

As a candidate, Trump often assailed the H-1B visa program, under which the government admits 85,000 immigrants each year.

During the presidential campaign, Trump confirmed to ABC that many Trump-branded products were manufactured overseas in China, Mexico, Turkey and Slovenia. Instead, through a series of administrative recommendations, directives, and changes, including calling for an overhaul of the lottery system used to determine the metrics on which H-1B visas are sponsored, Trump hopes to eliminate what critics of the programme allege is a systematic abuse of the visa regime, particularly by Indian body-shopping companies.

Potential changes could be administrative or legislative and could include higher fees for the visas, changing the wage scale for the program or other initiatives. In an announcement, the White House said H-1B visas should bring the highly talented and paid work to the United States.

The timeline for the H-1B-related review and changes was not clear in the executive order, which merely said they should be wrapped up "as soon as practicable". A famous case would be Walt Disney, who replaced a large number of USA technology workers with foreign workers who were willing to accept lower wages.

Technology companies have been highly resistant to the move, stating the H-1B program is needed to ensure the sector is open to attract the highest possible talent, which will ensure economic growth.

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