The long-standing confusion and speculation surrounding the H-1B visa program for foreign workers will finally be coming to an end on Tuesday i.e April 18. U.S President Donald Trump will sign an executive order to revamp the temporary H-1B visa program used by multination giants to onboard foreigners at their offices in States. This is a part of his continued push for American companies to hire their fellow netizens.
The President is looking to promote one of his primary election agendas — “Buy America, Hire America” by visiting a manufacturing facility in the state of Wisconsin. This is a crucial state for Trump’s victory against Hillary Clinton in the presidential election held last year. Trump plans to boast about his new visa initiative, which wouldn’t exactly change the application process, for bringing jobs back to the country.
Talking about the same in a press briefing at the White house, a senior Trump administration official said:
The strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the United States of labor from abroad for the stated purpose of creating higher wages and higher employment rates for workers in the United States
According to several reports, the U.S President will commission the federal agency (i.e Department of Homeland Security), which is responsible for the issuance of the popular H-1B work visa, to review the process and recommend changes to the program. They will have to review the complete process and suggest reforms such that visas are only awarded to high-skilled, highly paid professionals. It will also instruct other departments — Labor, Justice, and State — to crack down on employers abusing the power of the coveted U.S. immigration system, thus, neglecting American workers.
Under the Trump administration, the USCIS (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services) has already issued a memorandum to keep a closer check on IT professionals coming into the country. Further tightening scrutiny in ensuring that the IT professional is high-skilled, the technology giants will need to submit additional evidence to prove the complex or demanding nature of the position. This also involved site visits in checking whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to recruit U.S employees.
This will ultimately enable the U.S government to filter out foreign workers, especially those with lower qualification or package than their American counterparts, pouring into the country. While the formal review of the practices is being supported by many giants in the Silicon Valley, but the executive order may still leave several companies wary of the incoming changes. They are already saddened with the cancellation of expedited processing for H-1B visa requests for the next six odd months. The proposed changes have come into effect from April 3, i.e this fiscal.
According to data from Bloomberg, only 12 percent of the total certified H-1B applicants were computer programmers last year. But, the shocking fact is that over 41 percent of these were for positions at the lowest wage level. The government uses a lottery to award 65,000 visas every year and randomly distributes another 20,000 to graduate student workers – a total of 85,000 visas. However, in anticipation of the reforms, the number of applications for H-1B visas fell to 199,000 this year from 236,000 in 2016, said USCIS on Monday.