Trump order would target high skilled worker visa program

President Donald Trump is planning to sign an executive order today that seeks to make changes to the H1-B visa program that brings in high-skilled workers.

"If you change that current system that awards visas randomly, without regard or skill or wage, to a skill-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", the official said. An administration official said those agreements have failed to net the USA its fair share in the global procurements market.

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday dubbed "Buy American, Hire American" that calls for sweeping reform of the H-1B visa process.

H-1B visas admit 65,000 workers and another 20,000 graduate student workers each year.

The order will also call on government departments to "take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse" in the immigration system, a senior administration official said. H-1B applications declined from 236,000 to 199,000 this year, with employers uncertain of what changes might come under the Trump administration.

Trump has targeted the H-1B program, claiming they are a source of cheap labor. But critics say they abuse the program, replacing Americans with foreigners who will work for a lower wage and are often stuck in their position for years as their green card application is being processed. The top three recipients of the H-1B visas, the official said, were Tata (TCS), Infosys and Cognizant.

Advocates of the H-1B visa program argue that access to foreign talent is needed to fill the USA skills gap, but critics, including the Trump administration, say that the program needs to be reformed to quell abuses such as foreign outsourcing firms flooding the system with applicants and sometimes replacing U.S.jobs.

It will call on the departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security and State to take action to crack down on what the official called "fraud and abuse" in the U.S. immigration system to protect American workers. However, this was the first time in the past five years that the total number of visas requests saw a fall.

The officials said the commerce secretary will review how to close loopholes in enforcing the existing rules and provide recommendations to the president.

Through its "more targeted approach", USCIS has also decided to make random and unannounced "targeted site visits" to companies recruiting H-1B employees, in a bid to "focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur".

He called the delays "ridiculous" and promised to fight for a fairer deal for American workers and companies.

Despite his company's former use of that type of visa, Trump took a shot at that particular category during the campaign. "This portion of the executive order is an innovative step to stop the foreign cheaters from using taxpayer funds to steal our jobs, to shutter our steel mills and offshore our factories". "Like putting extra tickets in the lottery raffle, if you will", the official said. As part of the executive order, the agencies have been asked to do everything they can, he said. In recent years, many of those visas have been snapped up by outsourcing firms that offer low-priced IT support to American corporations.

Trump has spent seven of his first 13 weekends as president at Mar-a-Lago, the private club he owns in Palm Beach, Florida, even dining there with world leaders both in the formal dining room and on the deck amid other club members.

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