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US President Donald Trump signs executive order to tighten H-1B visa programme

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing federal agencies to recommend changes to a temporary visa program used to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill high-skilled jobs.

Apr 19, 2017 11:00 IST
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Donald Trump signs Buy American, Hire American orderUS President Donald Trump on 18 April 2017 signed an executive order named “Buy American, Hire American”. The order tightens the rules for technology companies seeking to bring highly skilled foreign workers to the United States.

The executive order that targets the H-1B visa programme was signed during Trump’s visit to the world headquarters of Snap-On Inc, a tool manufacturer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In short, the order aims at cracking down on skilled worker visa abuse and forces the government agencies to buy more domestically produced products.

Signing the executive order Trump said the order sends a powerful signal to the world that the United States will defend its workers, protect their jobs and put America first.

The order directs US agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the programme. Agencies have also been asked to suggest changes so that the H-1B visas are granted to the most-skilled or highest-paid applicants.

US policy memo: Computer programmer not to qualify for H-1B visa

The White House said the programme undercuts American workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper foreign workers, which drives down US wages.

H-1B visas

• H-1B visas are intended for foreign nationals in speciality occupations that generally require higher education, which according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) includes, but is not limited to, scientists, engineers or computer programmers.

• The government uses a lottery to award 65000 visas every year and randomly distributes another 20000 to graduate student workers.

• According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the number of applications for H-1B visas fell to 199000 in 2017 from 236000 in 2016.

Comment: It seems that the order is Trump’s attempt to carry out his America First campaign, which pledges to reform US immigration policies and encourage purchases of American products in federal contracts.

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