President Trump has signed an executive order for a review of the US' programme for bringing in skilled foreign workers - namely, the H-1B visa.
The order aligns with President Trump's promise as a candidate to review visa programs to prioritize the goal of "Buy American, Hire American", even as the president's own company, the Trump Organization, has not always done so.
United States President Donald Trump has ordered a review of the U.S. visa program for bringing high-skilled foreign workers into the country, mirroring the sentiment of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's move to abolish the 457 visa.
Administration officials said the order also seeks to strengthen requirements that American-made products be used in certain federal construction projects, as well as in various federal transportation grant-funded projects.
The order directs USA agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the programme. "This will stop", Trump said. The new order poses particular problems for India, which sends the maximum H-1B workers to the US.
During his campaign, Trump said he supported high-skilled visas but later came out against them.
Though the executive order would make no changes to the visa program, how it works is likely to be tweaked in the near future.
Going to a merit-based system "would ensure that only the most-skilled or highest-paid foreign workers would be chosen, incentivizing companies to look to hire American workers first", Lee added.
Whilst the H-1B visa program is utilised predominately by the tech industry, STEM subjects and manual work, the program has come under significant criticism in recent years due to the ability for businesses to hire foreign workers at cheaper rates than United States workers, therefore lowering USA wages. A close family member lost his job to a foreign worker because of this visa.
Trump said the order would "aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job".
The United States grants 85,000 H-1B temporary visas to high-skilled foreigners every year - 65,000 hired from overseas and 20,000 from those enrolled in U.S. colleges.
The US has already moved on addressing this issue by announcing a new set of guidelines for those qualifying for H-1B visas. Trump also promised to either replace or modify the current lottery-based selection process for H-1B visas. Department of Homeland Security officials said they will require that programmers applying for these visas provide evidence the work they're doing is highly specialized and complex.
H-1B visas, which are awarded on a lottery system, are capped at 85,000 nationwide.
The goal of these eventual changes to the program would be to prioritize visas for higher-skilled, higher wage-earning foreign workers, as opposed to the lottery system now in place for the awarding of H-1Bs. Under his plan, companies paying H-1B workers less than $100,000 will have to show they couldn't hire Americans for the same jobs.