In yet another indication of short-sightedness and lack of vision for the future of the nation, President Donald Trump ordered a review of the U.S. visa program for bringing high-skilled foreign workers into the country, putting technology firms and the outsourcing companies that serve them on notice that possible changes may be ahead. Trump announced the order and made remarks at a visit to the headquarters of Snap-On Inc , a tool maker in Wisconsin on April 18th.
“With this action, we are sending a powerful signal to the world: We’re going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first,” Trump said. It was unclear whether the latest such order would yield immediate results. The H-1B visas section included no definite timeline. The government procurement section did.
The visas are intended to go to foreign nationals in occupations that generally require specialized knowledge, such as science, engineering or computer programming. The government uses a lottery to award 65,000 visas yearly and randomly distributes another 20,000 to graduate student workers.
More than 15 percent of Facebook Inc’s U.S. employees in 2016 used a temporary work visa, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. Labor Department filings. Infosys, India’s No. 2 IT services firm, has said previously that it is ramping up work on on-site development centers in the United States to train local talent in an effort to address the visa regulation changes under consideration. It warned last week that onerous changes to U.S. visa rules could affect its earnings.
The order effectively raises the bar for foreign guest workers used by US and Indian companies to do work that American workers were thought to be unwilling or unable to do. Trump and his protectionist supporters say this is not true, and the original goal of the guest worker programme+ of bringing in highly-qualified foreign workers to do high-end jobs has been subverted by companies bringing in entry-level workers to replace US workers and depress wages.
In his first trip to the blue-collar country that voted for him in droves because of his pledge to protect US jobs, Trump went to a tool factory at Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the Chicago-Milwaukee industrial corridor (and Speaker Paul Ryan’s district), to show he intends to live up to his promise to staunch the loss of jobs. There he signed what was called a double-barrelled “Buy American, Hire American” executive order that will tighten guest worker visas such as H-1B+ , and require American agencies to buy more goods and services from US companies and workers.
Numerous studies have found that the impact of skilled workers and their contributions to technology, innovation, job-creation and enterpreneruship have been immensely beneficial to the US economy and the people of this great nation. However, for political reasons and to appease his hardcore support base, Trump has embarked on yet another ploy that will in the long run adversely affect the nation’s leadership role internationally and US will diminish to be the innovation nation.
“We hope the goal of President Trump’s executive order on the H-1B program is ‘mend it, don’t end it,'” said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a technology industry group.
Going to a more merit-based H-1B system could attract more people with advanced science and technology skills, Atkinson said in a statement. But he said some ideas could make the system ineffective, such as requiring advertisement of job openings for long periods to prove the unavailability of U.S. workers.
Seeking to carry out a campaign pledge to put “America First,” Trump signed an executive order on the H-1B visa program. It was vague on many fronts, and did not change existing rules, but one objective, said Trump aides, is to modify or replace the current lottery for H-1B visas with a merit-based system that would restrict the visas to highly skilled workers. Indian nationals are the largest group of H-1B recipients annually.
Such a change could affect companies, such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd , Cognizant Tech Solutions Corp and Infosys Ltd , that connect U.S. technology companies with thousands of foreign engineers and programmers. None responded to requests for comment. NASSCOM, the Indian IT service industry’s main lobbying group, said it backs efforts to root out H-1B abuses, but said the idea that H-1B visa holders are cheap labor is inaccurate.
In addition to addressing the visas issue, he also ordered a review of government procurement rules favoring American companies to see if they are actually benefiting, especially the U.S. steel industry.
Trump was a businessman before he was elected president last year, and his companies have been criticized for using visa programs to fill positions at Trump properties with foreign workers. Trump-branded products are also made overseas. As he nears the 100-day benchmark of his presidency, Trump still has no major legislative achievements. With his attempts to overhaul healthcare and tax law stalled in Congress, Trump has leaned heavily on executive orders to change policy.