Trump seeks shift in visa allotments crucial to tech outsourcing

Mr Trump will direct the departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security and Labour to propose reforms to the scheme, which allows American employers to bring foreign workers to fill U.S. jobs.

Speaking ahead of signing the order at the Kenosha, Wisconsin headquarters of tool maker Snap-on Inc., Trump claimed that no administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days on military, on the border, on trade, on regulation, on law enforcement and on government reform, than his.

The order directs agencies to enforce government rules on excluding foreign contractors from bids for government projects.

He said his administration is going to enforce "Hire American" rules that are created to protect jobs and wages of workers in the United States.

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The order was vague on many fronts, and did not change existing rules, but one objective 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.

Tom Gilding, a retired high school teacher who was among the protesters, said Trump's decision not to release his taxes shows a lack of transparency in his administration.

The 220-day review proceedings will attempt to move the current H-1B programme towards a more merit-based system, steering it away from the random lottery under which it now operates. The EO calls for the application of existing USA laws to visa recipients and the re-evaluation of the H-1B program.

The order is aimed at fulfilling his "America First" campaign promises.

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The administration's goal is to ensure such visas are given to the most qualified or highest-paid applicant, according to two senior officials. Critics of the program claim staffing companies are undercutting American wages by using the visas to recruit foreign labor and then contracting those workers to large companies.

The H-1B visa program has its place - helping companies around the country, but particularly in Silicon Valley, fill jobs for which the supply of American workers is thin. You report there are 600,000 H-1B visa holders, but are you also counting spouses who are allowed to take jobs? "The intent is to short-term high-skill kinds of visas, which is exactly how we use". Sadly, this will come at a great cost to our local economy where foreign-born Tennesseans play a critical role in filling the skilled-employment gap, driving economic growth, and creating jobs for US born workers.

What's more, the executive orders will also require federal agencies to review and minimise the use of waivers and exceptions in worldwide trade agreements.

About 6% of the visas now go to the Labour Department's top skill level, while eight in 10 workers on the visa are paid less than the median wage for their fields, the White House said in a fact sheet distributed to reporters.

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