President orders H-1B reform as petitions decrease

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United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS received 199,000 H-1B applications this year, down 16 per cent from 236,000 received last year.

"It is a significant drop", said George Ganey, an immigration lawyer in Maryland.

Mukesh Aghi, president of the US-India Business Council, a trade body, attributed the fall to "much lower petitions from Indian companies". And undoubtedly, 2017 elections are the reason for this.

Lawrence said it will be hard to know what contributed to lower numbers until there's more data.

In some cases, outsourcing firms flood the system with applicants, obtaining visas for foreign workers and then contracting them out to tech companies. This visa system has been criticized following high-profile examples of American workers being replaced by lower-paid foreigners through the program.

As announced on March 3, USCIS has temporarily suspended premium processing for all H-1B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions, for up to six months.

The H-1B is the most common visa for high-skilled foreign workers, but it's also become the subject of much scrutiny.

The agency announced the closure of the process for 2018 on Monday with the lottery that has been in the crosshairs of the programme's critics who believe it's being abused to outsource American jobs and to offshore them eventually.

That order, leaked copies of which were circulated among media outlets in February, never came. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will also not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2018 H-1B cap. That threw off a lot of companies, who did not want to wait.

Trump has repeatedly singled out the H-1B program as an example of how the government and special interests in Silicon Valley team up to undermine US workers.

Computer programmers, its new guidelines said, did not qualify automatically any longer. It is referred to as the "H-1B lottery". The visa program, which is created to let companies hire highly skilled workers for technical jobs based in the US that they're having trouble filling, is a central policy focus of the technology industry.

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