Here is an FAQ on the H1B visa programme:
What does the programme do?
It allows companies to recruit 85,000 employees from abroad each year for specialty positions. It took less than a week for applicants to exhaust that allotment in 2016, and technology companies have sought to increase the number available. People from India receive more H1B
visas than any other nationality.
What changes were made?
visas given out in the 2017 lottery beginning April 3, the government now requires additional information for entry-level computer programmers, to prove the jobs require advanced knowledge and experience.
Which other programmes are under scrutiny?
Apart from the best-known H1B
visa, companies use a variety of visas to bring in workers from abroad, including the B1 for temporary business visitors and the L1 for managers, executives and specialised workers of international
Why does the US have these programmes?
They were designed to allow US companies
to hire temporary workers from abroad when they couldn’t find qualified people domestically.
Do the programmes need reform?
It’s pretty clear the H1B
programme has been used in ways that contradict their original intent. There have been allegations of abuse and at least one big settlement: In 2013, Infosys agreed to pay a record fine of $34 million to settle US allegations that it sent employees to the US with B1 visitor visas to sidestep the caps on H-1Bs.
What does Trump propose?
Based on a draft executive order, his administration may push companies to try hiring American workers before turning to foreign ones. He’s also asked that the programmes prioritise giving visas to the most highly paid workers from abroad.
Can Trump act on his own?
An executive order can begin the reform process, but Trump lacks the broad powers of Congress. For example, he can’t change the number of H-1B visas
that are given out each year, but he probably can change the way they’re allocated. So he could order that priority be given to higher-paid workers.
What might Congress do?
One Bill makes companies that are the heaviest users of the programme pay salaries of at least $130,000, up from the current $60,000, or attest that they are not displacing American workers and making a good faith effort to recruit US workers if they pay less than that. Another forbids replacing US workers with H-1B hires and prioritise visa applications from people who earned degrees at American colleges.
Will Silicon Valley be hurt by the changes?
It depends on the details, of course, but the US tech industry may well come out on top. US employers could benefit if outsourcers face more restrictions.