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Trump to Pull Back on Visa Program He Says Affords Cheap Labor

Donald Trump is at a manufacturing plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Tuesday prepared to sign an executive order that will clamp down on foreign skilled workers coming to the U.S.

The move, another in the U.S. president’s promise to get the country on board with the “Buy American, Hire American” doctrine, is expected to make it harder for U.S. companies—especially those in the tech sector who have perhaps tapped it the most—to fill mid-level jobs with overseas workers.

At a briefing with reporters, The Hill reported officials from the Administration as saying, “The current system awards visas randomly with no regard to skill or wage…This will make it tougher to undercut American workers because they will no longer be replaced by workers making beneath the market wage.”

Really, the officials said, the program should revert to its original purpose of bringing in high-skilled, higher paid workers for more technical or specialized roles.

According to the Trump Administration, the H-1B visa program has been abused by bringing in workers for cheap labor (which undercuts the American worker) rather than because their skill set is really required.

The order won’t change anything immediately and it likely won’t affect the number of H-1B visas issued each year. What it will do is get the Labor, State, Justice and Homeland Security departments to thoroughly review the program and suggest ways to improve it. It will also raise the qualifying criteria for those who apply to allow only high earners with unique skill sets and advanced degrees to be considered, and it may adjust the wage scale the U.S government uses when assessing applicants.

“We’ve never had a systematic review like this,” The Hill reported an Administration official as saying. “These steps are broadly supported by American workers and would bring these programs into compliance with their original intent. H-1B was intended to be a skilled worker program, but most of those using it are paid less than American workers in their field.”

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