President Trump has reportedly signed an executive order this week that will directly affect the skilled worker visa program. His “Buy American, Hire American” order has regimented a review of the H-1B visa program in an ongoing effort to revamp the immigration system and ensure that “H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.” This executive action is directly inline with his administrations heavily emphasized commitment to “protect the interests of U.S. workers” and is designed to return the H-1B visa program to its original intended function.
While the new order will not make immediate changes to the program, it will put in place a long-term review that the administration is hoping will clean up a heavily abused system that they are currently calling “inoperative”. There have reportedly been complaints, specifically from the tech industry, stating that a large number of the visas awarded each year are allegedly taken by outsourcing firms that hire lower-skilled workers, and thus preventing firms from getting visas that could be used for higher-skilled applicants. According to the senior administration officials, the review of the H-1B visa program will hopefully be successful in identifying and trouble-shooting some of these long standing issues in order to shift the process for awarding visas while putting a higher priority on higher-skilled and higher-paid workers. They are also hoping that their efforts will make it significantly more difficult to use the program as a way to replace American workers as a whole.
Currently, it is unclear as to what changes will eventually be made or how this order will affect the H-1B visa program in the long-run, but as expected, there are many who are questioning the approach. With the current administrations track record thus far, critics are left wondering if this executive action will result in another heavy-handed regulation put forth to keep workers out, rather than improve the system. Based on the fact that high skilled, immigrant workers are a huge contributing factor to the U.S. economy there are high hopes that the H-1B rules can be better enforced and the system can be improved in such a way that those deserving, can continue to benefit.