Trump Administration Pushes Changes to Visa Program

By: - April 19, 2017 12:00 am

President Donald Trump displays an executive order calling for tightening the rules for technology companies seeking to bring highly skilled foreign workers to the U.S.

© The Associated Press

The Trump administration plans to use a new executive order to target staffing companies it accuses of abusing a visa program designed to bring high-skilled foreign workers to the U.S.

An executive order President Donald Trump signed Tuesday states that the administration will “suggest reforms” to the controversial H-1B visa program. But in a background briefing, a senior administration official said the changes are aimed at staffing companies such as India-based Tata and Infosys and New Jersey-based Cognizant, which the official said are flooding the system with applications in order to get the “lion’s share” of randomly awarded visas.

Tech companies, backed by many governors and mayors, want the federal government to expand the number of H-1B visas to fill high-skill jobs. But some labor advocates want to change or end the program, arguing that employers are exploiting it to find cheap, disposable labor.

“You’ve seen some of these high-profile examples where you have career employees at a company who have been working there for 10, 20 years, and then they get laid off and they hire a contracting firm using H-1B workers at much less pay,” the administration official said.

The official said the administration might push to replace the random selection process for H-1B visas with a system that gives preference to better-educated, better-paid workers, which might make it harder to replace or undercut existing workers. 

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Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson covers demographics for Stateline. He has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Journal News.