How will the overhaul of H-1B visas affect businesses?

ABC News

"The "Buy and Hire American" order I'm about to sign will help protect workers and students like those of you in the audience today", President Trump said to the employees at Snap-on.

He signed the so-called Buy America, Hire America order on a visit to a tool factory in the USA state of Wisconsin.

It will call on the departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security and State to crack down on what the official called "fraud and abuse" in USA immigration to protect U.S. workers, and propose reforms to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid applicant. Perhaps most significantly, the executive orders will demand that all publically financed infrastructure and construction projects use US-made steel in their projects.

The order directs U.S. agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the programme. "Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans", Trump said.

"We are potentially going to pay an opportunity cost", Williams said, fearing it could signal that the United States may not be a welcoming country for high skilled foreign workers.

"Directing that people buy American and hire American". The executive order will make reforms to raise the bar for foreign workers and will select only highly-skilled applicants.

President Trump pledged in his weekly address Friday to prioritize American workers to ensure their concerns don't "go unanswered".

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The timeline for the H-1B-related review and changes was not clear in the executive order, which merely said they should be wrapped up "as soon as practicable".

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

This year there were 199,000 applications for the H1B visas even after the USCIS guidelines released April 3 clarifying that computer programmers will not be eligible for H1B visas by default. It also proposes changes, such as awarding H-1B visas to guest workers with the best skills and highest potential wages, rather than through a random lottery as is done now.

R Chandrasekhar, President, Nasscom said H1- Visa issue is a very small one in the whole immigration debate in the United States and it is not the only issue that drives the Indian IT industry.

On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly vilified companies that looked to hire foreign workers.

H-1B visas, which are awarded on a lottery system, are capped at 85,000 nationwide.

Critics say the programme has been hijacked by staffing companies that use the visas to import foreigners who will work for less than Americans.

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