Trump targets visas program for highly skilled workers

President Donald Trump today signed an executive order directing the government to review its polices on the H1-B visa program, as the administration says it looks to cut down on abuse in the system designed for high-skilled workers.

Trump will sign the order during a trip to Kenosha, Wis., where he will tour the headquarters of Snap-on-Tools and deliver a speech about US manufacturing.

"This executive order will call for the strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the United States of labor from overseas for the stated goal of creating higher wages and higher employment rates for workers in the United States", the official said.

While the White House did not share the order's language, a senior official told WIRED that the order will call on the Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to submit a list of administrative and legislative reforms that would take on abuse of the visa programme.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department issued a warning to USA companies at the start of the H-1B application season warning that it is stepping up enforcement of program provisions created to protect American workers.

The number of H-1B visa applications fell down to 199,000 in the current year from 236,000 last year, as per the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Noting that right now the H-1B visas were awarded by random lottery, the official said 80 per cent of H-1B workers were paid less than the median wage in their fields.

But it falls way short of Mr Trump's campaign pledge to end the H-1B visa programme. The request will approach those four government offices to propose changes to guarantee H-1B visas are granted to the most gifted or most generously compensated candidate.

The H-1B program is open to a broad range of occupations, including architects, professors and even fashion models.

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Senior officials gave few details on implementation of the order but Trump aides have expressed concern that most H-1B visas are awarded for lower-paid jobs at outsourcing firms, many based in India, which they say takes work away from Americans.

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Speaking at the headquarters of Wisconsin-based toolmaker Snap-on, Trump said that the order "declares that the policy of our government is to aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job".

Stating that it will wait for details of specific proposals under consideration, Nasscom pointed out that the current campaign to discredit the over Dollars 110 billion Indian IT sector is driven by "persistent myths". The waivers could be renegotiated or revoked if they are not benefiting the United States. It's meant for jobs requiring specialty skills that can not be filled by a USA worker. Many go to technology companies, which argue that the U.S. has a shortage of skilled technology workers. It could also change the lottery system to give foreigners with US master's degrees a leg up.

"Buy American is the Trump Administration's highest priority when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars", a senior official said.

The executive order will also focus on reviewing waivers in free-trade agreements and whether they allow foreign firms to undermine American companies in the global government procurement market.

The order directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to prepare a report within 220 days on "Buy American" provisions, which include both direct federal purchasing and spending on federally-funded projects, requiring all agencies to review their compliance with statute and to determine ways to step up their commitment.