19 April, 2017
Donald Trump announced a new executive order directing government agencies to "buy American and hire American", but immediately faced accusations of hypocrisy for failing to do so himself.
"These are great, great people and I love the workers", Trump said, speaking at a lectern, backed by an American flag made of tools.
Mr Trump's wife Melania used an H-1B visa in her early days as a model in NY, says the BBC's Gary O'Donoghue in Washington.
"The president could simply adopt our proposal which is strong and tough and if he'd stop demonizing immigrants and work with us on comprehensive immigration reform he could get something done, something real", Schumer said. Trump also promised to either replace or modify the current lottery-based selection process for H-1B visas.
That equaled "roughly 3 million more jobs than the number of available, trained professional who could potentially fill them", researchers found.
"We are finally standing up for our workers and our companies", said President Trump.
What is an H1-B visa and how does it work?The number of applications fell from 236,000 a year ago. And if they are forced to recruit employees from the U.S. - which would lead to higher costs - then that would affect their profitability in the long term.
Instead of a lottery, Trump wants to prioritize "the most skilled and highest paid applicants".
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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is expected to review "how to close loopholes in enforcing the existing rules".
The "hire American" portion of the order instructs the departments of Labour, Justice, Homeland Security and State to look for evidence of visa abuse on the part of employers and fraud on the part of workers.
About 85,000 H-1B visas are distributed annually by lottery.
They are seeking a more merit-based method of awarding visas to highly skilled workers. It urges these departments to propose reforms to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid applicant, reported Reuters. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, would require companies seeking H-1B visas to first make a good-faith effort to hire Americans, a requirement many companies can dodge under the current system; give the Labor Department more power to investigate and sanction H-1B abuses; and give "the best and brightest" foreign students studying in the USA priority in getting H-1B visas. The Senate Judiciary Committee during the last Congress held a hearing exploring H-1B abuse and its impact on American workers.
One study by the Partnership for a New American Economy Action Fund found that in 2016, employers in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields "faced a dire picture", with 13 STEM job posted online for every unemployed worker.
H-1B visas are intended for foreign nationals in "specialty" occupations that generally require higher education, which according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) includes, but is not limited to, scientists, engineers or computer programmers.
"The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against USA workers", said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division.
Called "Buy American, Hire American", the executive order has been touted by the administration as one step toward employing more Americans in well-paying jobs.