Pres. Trump signs order on high-skilled worker visas

President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Tuesday

During a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday, Trump will tour the headquarters of Snap-on-Tools and sign an executive order meant to make good on his pledge to "buy American and hire American".

President Donald Trump just signed an executive order encouraging businesses in the U.S.to put American workers first and hire them before foreign applicants.

The order will call on those four federal departments to propose reforms to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid applicant.

Although these visas, known as H-1B, aren't supposed to displace American workers, critics say the program mostly benefits consulting firms that let tech companies save money by contracting out their jobs to foreign workers.

The order would direct USA agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the program.

Senior administration officials told reporters that the order will direct Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to prepare a report by Thanksgiving on waivers and exceptions made to "buy American" rules across the federal government, and how to close those loopholes. The tech industry has argued that the H-1B program is needed because it encourages students to stay in the USA after getting degrees in high-tech specialties - and because companies can't always find enough American workers with the skills they need.

The officials said that Trump's executive order is "not a criticism" of a particular company, private business or "anybody's practices", but of Washington and "how they've been running this program".

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"We're encouraged that this is an important first step".

"We're going to do everything in our power that more products are stamped with those wonderful words: 'Made in the USA, '" Trump declared while speaking in front of a huge American flag made out of wrenches at the Snap-On Tools factory in Kenosha. Essentially, the goal of this executive order is to make it harder for companies to hire low-wage, foreign workers - something Trump does at many of his properties, including Mar-a-Lago. As per several U.S. reports, a majority of the H-1B visas every year is grabbed by Indian IT professionals. The administration says it will attempt to change the current "lottery" system for applications to one that prioritizes higher-wage workers. Although the specific text of the order is not available, it is expected to increase enforcement of existing laws, adjust existing trade agreements, and overhaul guest-worker programs - including the H-1B visa program.

About 85,000 H-1B visas are distributed annually by lottery.

With this order Trump makes his H-1B reform effort official, but the changes that the administration wants will take time.

Employers from Walt Disney World to the University of California in San Francisco have laid off their tech employees and replaced them with H-1B visa holders. However, a comprehensive review could lead to changes in other programs.

Trump said at one point during the presidential campaign that he supported high-skilled visas, then said he opposed the program. He said that some of that will be administrative, and some will have to be done legislatively.

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