Trump order would target high skilled worker visa program

President Donald Trump arrives on the Truman Balcony for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Monday April,17 2017

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday afternoon aimed at changing procurement laws to make it easier to purchase American products in federal contracts.

The businessman-turned politician signed the order, which is being dubbed the "Buy American, Hire American" executive order, as he visited the global headquarters of tool manufacturing firm Snap-On Inc in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The order aligns with President Trump's promise as a candidate to review visa programs to prioritize the goal of "buy American, Hire American", even as the president's own company, the Trump Organization, has often opted to take an alternate route. Trump's order is to open a review of the H-1B system, and require companies to prove that they're hiring only the "most-skilled or highest-paid" applicants.

The order will also direct US agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the program. This type of partnership can be replicated across the country, and the President's Buy American and Hire American Executive Order puts us on that path.

U.S. lawmakers have already tabled more than half a dozen legislations in the Congress with specific proposals to reform and improve the H-1B visas systems.

Other similar acts and provisions, including Buy America and the Berry Amendment, are also meant to encourage the use of American products for projects that are funded by the federal government.

But the number of applicants for the H-1B visa fell to 199,000 this year, down from 236,000 in 2016, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services. It grants 65,000 visas every year while another 20,000 are set aside for those with USA advanced degrees. Companies say they rely on these visas to bring in skilled workers they can't find in the US.

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Tens of thousands who apply for H-1B visas each year are hired by IT companies.

It is too late for Trump's new order to affect the program this year, as the cutoff was April 3, but next year, the number of H-1B workers coming into the USA will surely drop from 85,000. He particularly criticised the H-1B visas for allowing those with a bachelor's or higher degree in a specialty field to work in the U.S. for up to six years. Changing certain fundamental elements, like how many visas are awarded each year, requires action from Congress.

The United States offers 85,000 H-1B visas every year, most of which are snapped up by Indian outsourcers whose employees fill a skill gap in USA engineering.

"So if you change that current system that awards visas randomly without regard for skill or wage to a skills-based awarding, it makes it extremely hard to use the visa to replace or undercut American workers because you're not bringing in workers at beneath the market wage".

India's No. 2 IT Services firm Infosys has said it is ramping up work on on-site development centers in the United States to train local talent in a bid to address the visa regulation changes under consideration.

The president revived campaign stump speech lines and called the North American Free Trade Agreement a "complete and total disaster" for the USA, promising either big changes or totally scrapping the sweeping trade accord. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it received 199,000 applications for the fiscal year that begins on October 1. The order asks for a review of waivers of these rules in free-trade agreements.

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