Silicon Valley’s relationship with the Trump administration may soon become even further strained as President Trump is reportedly set to announce reforms of the H-1B visa system.
Bloomberg Technology reports that the Trump administration has drafted a new executive order aimed at tightening and re-working the H-1B visa system, which is used by many Silicon Valley tech companies to hire workers from overseas. The use of H-1B visas has been a contentious issue for some time, as many believe that the overuse of these visas has lead to white collar Americans being pushed out of the workforce. In some cases, former American employees were forced to train the H-1B visa workers that would be replacing them.
“Our country’s immigration policies should be designed and implemented to serve, first and foremost, the U.S. national interest,” the proposal reads, according to a copy obtained by Bloomberg Tech. “Visa programs for foreign workers … should be administered in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers — our forgotten working people — and the jobs they hold.”
If implemented, this executive order could drastically change the hiring processes of companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google and will entirely reshape Indian companies such as Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. who are large users of the H-1B visa program.
The H-1B program was initially designed to help companies recruit specialized workers in particular industries from overseas. In recent years, however, accusations of the system being abused have been levied at several industries, allowing large companies to hire foreign workers willing to work for lower salaries than American workers.
Some have already criticised the Trump administration’s unreleased executive order, such as Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution: “Immigrant STEM workers have contributed an outsize share to founding new companies, getting patents, and helping build up American companies, which in turn because of their success have created tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of jobs. Discouraging such people to apply for visas to enter the United States to work — I can’t imagine how that can be considered to be in the American national interest.”