Trump Threatens to Reform H-1B Workers Visa

By Nicole M Encalada, International Business Writer

As of last Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to forbid Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspending the admission of refugees for the next 120 days. This order has also been extended to seven other predominantly Muslin nations for the next 90 days including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, President Trump is far from finished with immigration reform.

Along with the other orders, the new president has been making recently; it was announced that the President’s next move is to “fix” the work-visa program which technology companies heavily rely on to hire thousands of foreign employees every year.

When news first broke of the “Muslim Ban”, tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft openly stood out against this move citing it as a violation of principles and risk to innovation. If the new reform were to be implemented, it would directly affect tech companies if the current order has not already.

If the newly drafted order goes into effect, American tech companies such as Amazon and Apple will have to reconsider how they recruit their talent, and adjust their outsourcing strategy to Indian companies such as Infosys Ltd.

Businesses would have to change their foreign hiring strategy and put Americans first for high quality tech jobs, which is in line with President Trump’s promise to put America and its people first.

Initially, the foreign worker’s visa was put into action to help American companies recruit foreign workers when it seemed that domestic talent were not as qualified, mainly in STEM positions.

There have been accusations of abusing the H-1B program to bring in foreign workers at cheaper labor costs, rather than giving those jobs to U.S. citizens. In response, Democratic Congresswoman, Zoe Lofgren, proposed a bill to tighten the requirements for the work visa program. Lofgren commented that the proposed bill is to make sure the program is being used for its original purpose, “to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the U.S. workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers”.

In regards to the imminent reform a senior Senior fellow at Brookings Institution, Gary Burtless, said in regards to the imminent reform, “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”. Given this statement, it seems as though the reform would work against the country’s interest.

Surely, many U.S. multinational companies including those in the tech sector are in a state of distress over what will happen next. In an interview with FastCompany, Angelo Paparelli, a partner at Business Immigration Practice group stated, “There’s no immediate need to panic or take brash action.””. He also advised that managers should continue to communicate with their staff and stay aware of developments. According to Paparelli, Employers might be able to sponsor workers for immigrant benefits. However, workers may have to be terminated if the law becomes fully enforced.

For now, it is uncertain if the order will be fully implemented, but given the pattern of President Trump’s first few weeks so far, it would not be a surprise if the order were to be put into effect.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 7th print edition.

Contact Nicole at

nicole.encalada@student.shu.edu

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