Trump will sign executive order to begin revamp of H-1B visa program
Trump aides say the new directive is “buy American, hire American.”
President Donald Trump will sign an executive order today seeking changes to the H-1B visa program, which allows tens of thousands of foreign tech workers to come and work in the US each year.
Trump will go to a manufacturing plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to sign the order, according to The Hill, which got wind of the coming order along with other DC news services late yesterday.
Reports came out in the first few weeks of the Trump administration that the new president would seek to change the program via executive order. The order signed today, though, doesn’t actually change the program at all. Rather, it directs several government departments, including Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State, to perform a review of the H-1B program and offer recommendations for changes.
The same executive order will reportedly direct federal agencies to prioritize American companies when granting federal contracts.
The new order is part of a push to “buy American, hire American,” according to Recode, quoting Trump administration aides.
Officials on a background call with reporters said the two directives will benefit middle-class Americans “who have suffered for too long under unfair trade and immigration rules,” according to The Washington Post.
“This is the policy that ensures no one gets left behind in America anymore—that we protect our industry from unfair competition, favor the products produced by our fellow citizens and make certain that when jobs open those jobs are given to American workers first,” said the White House in a statement quoted by the Post.
As a presidential candidate, Trump said he would “end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers for every visa and immigration program,” with “no exceptions.”
The H-1B program grants 85,000 visas through a lottery system each year, many of which are filled by tech workers. There are also university and non-profit H-1B positions that aren’t included in the visa lottery. The government began accepting H-1B applications earlier this month, and the program maxed out within a week, as it has for the last five years.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services has stated it will have a more robust enforcement program this year, which will target heavy H-1B employers. The Department of Justice also warned companies this year not to use the H-1B visa program to discriminate against US workers.