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Trump order would target high skilled worker visa program

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President Donald Trump pauses during a news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington. Once soft on Russia and hard on China President Donald Trump rapidly reversed course in the last weeks

The H1-B visa programme is meant to bring skilled workers in certain fields to the USA, but the administration contended that employers have abused the programme to hire workers who will accept cheaper pay than Americans. "This is a transitional step to get towards a more skills-based and merit-based immigration system".

The senior administration official said: "If you change that current system that awards visas randomly, without regard for skill or wage, to a skills-based awarding, it makes it extremely hard to use the visa to replace or undercut American workers".

It argued that any "onerous additional restrictions" on the H-1B and L-1 visa systems will hurt thousands of U.S. businesses and their efforts to be more competitive as it will hinder their access to talent.

The administration said it believes the Buy American law is weakened by the excessive granting of waivers and exceptions.

As for the hire American rule, the order seeks to direct federal agencies to enforce H1-B visa laws more strictly.

The rules for H-1B applicants were already toughened recently.

The tech industry has argued that the H-1B program is needed because it encourages students to stay in the USA after getting degrees in high-tech specialties - and companies can't always find enough American workers with the skills they need.

It will approach the departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State to make a move to get serious about what the authority called "fraud and abuse" in the USA migration framework to ensure American specialists.

Trump has already signaled hostility toward the H1-B system, and earlier this month, US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it would increase scrutiny of the program through expanded "site visits" to employers using H1-B visas.

Tech companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, have championed the H-1B visa programme.

In the beginning of 2017, the US Congressmen had proposed a bill raising the minimum wage on the H-1B visa to over $130,000, more than double of what is mandated at present.

The administration argues the existing H-1B visa system lowers wages for American workers by allowing businesses to hire foreigners who will accept lower salaries. Already, an announcement from the US Citizen and Immigration Services in April indicated the administration would be cracking down on abuse of the system; it set up an email hotline for reporting fraud and said it would "continue random and unannounced visits" to workplaces with high numbers of H-1B holders.

The second part of the order also calls for a review of trade deals that have waived Buy American laws "to determine which deals may actually be working for America and which are not".

The long-standing confusion and speculation surrounding the H-1B visa program for foreign workers will finally be coming to an end on Tuesday i.e April 18.

"Well, you know what?"

The executive order is not expected to address the number of [H-1B] visas that are given out annually. "Like putting extra tickets in the lottery raffle, if you will", the official said.

Trump has spent seven of his first 13 weekends as president at Mar-a-Lago, the private club he owns in Palm Beach, Florida, even dining there with world leaders both in the formal dining room and on the deck amid other club members. Changing certain fundamental elements, like how many visas are awarded each year, requires action from Congress. An administration official claimed that the "lion's share" of the visas are presently used for "entry-level positions".

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