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The Trump Administration's H-1B Visa Changes Are Creating Uncertainty Among Employers

21 April 2017

"The department fully supports the U.S. Department of Justice in cautioning employers who petition for H-1B visas not to discriminate against U.S. workers, as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's measures to further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse".

Speaking ahead of signing the order at the Kenosha, Wisconsin headquarters of tool maker Snap-on Inc., Trump claimed that no administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days on military, on the border, on trade, on regulation, on law enforcement and on government reform, than his.

"The buy and hire American order, I'm about to sign, will help protect workers and students like those of you in the audience today", said Trump through ABC News.

The order directs agencies to enforce government rules on excluding foreign contractors from bids for government projects. After the agency review, Congress may need to act, though, to ensure that "Buy American, Hire American" actually means something.

The President said H1B visas should be given to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never be used to replace Americans.

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"That core issue has not been addressed", said R. Chandrashekhar, president of India's software and services companies association Nasscom.

United States 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. The EO calls for the application of existing US laws to visa recipients and the re-evaluation of the H-1B program.

Trump will sign the order in Wisconsin, a state he won last November with an appeal to blue-collar workers and a promise to revive manufacturing jobs.

The policy would have a "somewhat meaningful" impact on the US steel industry, but "I'm kind of skeptical it even happens", Lee McMillan, an analyst at Clarksons Platou Securities, said in a telephone interview.

More than 15% of Facebook's US employees previous year used a temporary work visa, according to a Reuters analysis of US Labour Department filings. Since the H-1B visa category does not require the beneficiaries to be the most skilled or the highest paid workforce, it will take congressional intervention in the form of new legislation to change USA immigration laws to carry out this request. The H-1B visa program allots temporary visa to foreign workers with specialized skills to fill in some gaps in the working industry, mostly in IT and Engineering, according to Business Insider. In putting pen to paper on this matter, Trump is looking to bring to fruition his campaign promise to support domestic blue-collar workers and U.S. job creation. Critics of the program claim staffing companies are undercutting American wages by using the visas to recruit foreign labor and then contracting those workers to large companies. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will review how to close loopholes in the current rules and report back to Trump, especially on waivers to the buy-American rules in the nation's trade deals.