US President Donald Trump on 18 April 2017 signed an executive order named "Buy American, Hire American". Colleges fear that, as with his previous orders banning travel from some majority-Muslim nations, the president's latest move could deter foreign students from seeking to enroll on American campuses.
The technology industry relies heavily on the H-1B visa program to bring in engineering talent from overseas, and executives say they simply can not hire enough American workers to fill jobs at their companies.
"With this action we are sending a powerful signal to the world that were going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first", President Trump said at the Snap-On factory in Kenosha.
What about claims that the H-1B visa program exposes workers to potential abuse in that their US residency is contingent upon continued employment with the sponsoring company?
The "buy American, hire American" directive does not make any immediate changes to the H-1B system, however, but commissions the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review the way H-1B visas are granted. These sign on executive order is a part of fulfilling his promises which he made in the election campaign a year ago. "Workers are often brought in well below market rates to replace American workers", the official said. Trump ordered federal agencies to look at tightening a temporary visa programme used to bring high-skilled foreign workers to the United States. Reports state that the order will not affect other such guest worker visas like the H-2B seasonal worker visa used by U.S. farms and agriculturists and Trump's own resorts.
Outsourcing companies now get far more visas than traditional technology companies, according to data collected through Freedom of Information Act requests by Ron Hira, an associate professor at Howard University who has done extensive research on the H-1B program.
"Currently, companies routinely abuse the H-1B visa programme by replacing American workers with lower paid foreign workers", it said.
"The H-1B visa program is commonly discussed as being for when employers have a labor shortage", said Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it received 199,000 applications for the fiscal year that begins on October 1.
The Trump administration rolled out policy shifts earlier this month to begin cracking down on the H-1B visa system. The 457 Visa programme, again favoured by Indian workers, allowed the businesses to hire from outside countries and retain them for a period of upto four years.
The official added, 'these companies will apply for a large number of applications every year by putting additional tickets in lottery raffle.
Another unnamed agency executive yesterday said, "I think maybe you'd be shocked to know that a full-on eight out of 10 H-1B workers are paid less than the median wage in their fields".