Trump's clampdown on use of immigrant IT workers may have little impact

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At the headquarters of hand and power tool manufacturer Snap-on Inc., Trump signed an order that that asks the government to propose new rules and changes that will stop what he called abuses in a visa program used by USA technology companies.

Trump signed the "Buy America, Hire America" order on Tuesday night during a visit to a tool factory in the USA state of Wisconsin, reported CNN.

According to the news report, the order was vague on many front 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.

"Sending a powerful signal to the world, protect workers and jobs and put America first", President Trump said. An administration official told reporters on Monday that 80% of the immigrants who enter the US on H-1B visas are paid less than the median wage in their fields.

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Bruce Morrison, who helped create the H-1B program and is now a lobbyist for tech-worker advocacy group IEEE-USA, said that the drop in applications reflects a shift in strategy rather than a true change in demand for the visas.

Yet in a briefing paper given to reporters, the White House says such critics fail "to take into account" that helping American contractors would boost American incomes, raise tax revenue and help revive USA industry. The president called the order "bold new steps" toward making good on his campaign promises to generate more jobs for out-of-work Americans. "Ours is one of the most highly regulated and scrutinized sectors in the economy, and Nasscom member companies abide by all applicable laws and regulations".

Tewari said the Trump Administration's decision to drastically scale back on H1B Visa programme and the Australian government's move to scrap the 457 temporary Work Visa is "extremely disappointing".

"We expect disturbances in remittances by eight to ten percent", the paper said, adding there would be fewer opportunities for individuals to work on offshore location.

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However, the IT industry body said that nothing is being proposed that would impact or change the FY18 H-1B lottery that is now underway. So if enforced improperly, it could cause supply problems in a US market in which up to 25 percent of steel was imported in the first quarter of this year. Interest in the H-1B program remains high, as visa applications reached their annual cap within five business days, though this interest could stem from people striving to secure a visa before policy shifts are introduced.

This means that Trump will need Congressional action to reform the program.

Administration officials said that the order seeks to strengthen requirements that US-made products be used in certain federal construction projects, as well as in various federal transportation grant-funded projects. The figures were disclosed by US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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