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H-1B Visas: Donald Trump to Sign 'Hire American' Executive Order Today

Updated: April 18, 2017, 10:09 AM IST
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H-1B Visas: Donald Trump to Sign 'Hire American' Executive Order Today
US President Donald Trump is scheduled to sign the executive order in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Tuesday. (Reuters)

New Delhi: US President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order that would tighten the process of issuing the H-1B visas, the most sought-after by Indian IT firms and professionals.

Trump is scheduled to travel to Milwaukee in Wisconsin, the home state of House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, to sign the 'Buy American, Hire American' Executive Order, reports said.

The executive order would be signed a day after the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has completed the computerised draw of lots from the 199,000 petitions it received for the Congressional mandated 65,000 H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2018 beginning October 1 this year.

ALSO READ | H-1B Visa Applications See First Fall Since 2013, Says US Agency

The lottery was held for the 20,000 H-1B visas for those applicants having higher education from US educational institutions.

CNN reported that the applications for the visa saw a decline for the first time since 2014. This year the agency has received 199,000 applications, a drop from 2,36,000 applications last year, the report said. The number had been climbing since at least 2013, the report added.

"In an atmosphere of uncertainty, I suppose it is not surprising that fewer petitions were filed this year," Betsy Lawrence, the director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told CNN.

"Some IT firms in India announced they were reducing the number of lower-experienced workers they were filing petitions for, meaning more of those jobs will stay in India rather than being relocated to the US,” she added.

Opposing the traditional lottery system for H-1B visas, a senior administration official told White House reporters that these visas were being used by companies to bring in foreign workers at a low wage rate and displace local workers.

The official argued that there were enough qualified people within the country to meet the demand of technology professionals.

Trump had made the alleged abuse and fraud in H-1B visa system a major election issue during his campaign.

The executive order signed by Trump will call for the strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the United States of labour from abroad, for the stated purpose of creating higher wages and higher employment rates for workers in America, the official said.

"It would further call on the departments of Labour, Justice, Homeland Security and State to take prompt action to crackdown on fraud and abuse, which should both be understood as separate problems, in our immigration system in order to protect workers in the United States and their economic conditions," the official asserted.

The H1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows American firms to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is highly popular among Indian techies and the technology companies depend on the programme to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

ALSO READ | Indian Students Will Continue to be in Demand in US

Indian IT giants like TCS, Infosys and Wipro are among the major beneficiaries of H-1B visas.

The annual cap on H-1B visas is 85,000, of which 20,000 are reserved for Master's degree holders.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: April 18, 2017, 10:09 AM IST
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