Donald Trump orders review of H-1B visa program to encourage hiring Americans

19 Apr

It was unclear whether the latest such order would yield immediate results. The H-1B visas section included no definite timeline, while the government procurement section did.

“We hope the goal of President Trump’s executive order on the H-1B program is ‘mend it, don’t end it,’” said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a major technology industry group.

Going to a more merit-based H-1B system could attract more people with advanced science and technology skills, he said in a statement. But he said some ideas could make the system ineffective, such as requiring advertisement of job openings for long periods to prove the unavailability of US workers.

Critics of the program say most H-1B visas are awarded for lower-paid jobs at outsourcing firms, many based in India. They say that takes work away from Americans and lowers wages.

“Right now, widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries,” Mr Trump said.

Tech companies have been bracing for the president to make changes to the H-1B program. The visas are intended to go to foreign nationals in occupations that generally require specialised knowledge, such as science, engineering or computer programming. The government uses a lottery to award 65,000 visas yearly and randomly distributes another 20,000 to graduate student workers.

Critics say the lottery benefits outsourcing firms that flood the system with mass applications for visas for lower-paid information technology workers.

“Right now H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery and that’s wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans,” Mr Trump said.

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