Trump targets visas programme for highly skilled workers

2017-04-18 20:00
President Donald Trump walks out of the Oval Office to board Marine One en route to Kenosha in Wisconsin. (Carolyn Kaster, AP)

President Donald Trump walks out of the Oval Office to board Marine One en route to Kenosha in Wisconsin. (Carolyn Kaster, AP)

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Washington - President Donald Trump heads to the politically important state of Wisconsin later on Tuesday to sign an order aimed at curbing abuses in a visa programme used by technology companies that rely on highly-skilled foreign workers.

The order, dubbed "Buy American, Hire American," marks a return to the populism Trump seemed to all but abandon with a series of recent reversals on economic policies.

Trump will sign the directive at the headquarters of tool manufacturer Snap-on Inc in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a state he narrowly carried in November on the strength of support from white, working class voters. But Trump is currently facing a 41% approval in the state.

Trump is targeting the H-1B visa programme, which the White House says undercuts American workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper, foreign workers, driving down wages.

Existing rules

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

The order would direct US agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the programme. They would also be asked to offer changes so that H-1B visas are awarded to the "most-skilled or highest-paid applicants", said administration officials.

The officials said the order also seeks to strengthen requirements that American-made products be used in certain federal construction projects, as well as in various federal transportation grant-funded projects. The commerce secretary will review how to close loopholes in existing rules and provide recommendations to the president.

The order specifically asks the secretary to review waivers of these rules in free-trade agreements. The waivers could be renegotiated or revoked if they are not benefiting the United States.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us

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