President Donald Trump is expected to sign a new executive order Tuesday (18 April) that will target guest worker visas and will push for policies prioritising American-made products. The executive order, entitled "Buy American, Hire American," will be signed during a visit to Snap-On Tools in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The executive order's main target will be the H-1B visa, which was created by Congress in 1990 to help companies hire high skilled foreign workers when they cannot fill those roles domestically. Yahoo Finance noted that some companies have used H-1B visas to replace American workers with foreigners willing to work for less.
"We're taking a more vigorous stance in enforcing violations of the H-1B programme," a senior Trump administration official said on Monday (17 April). "We want to make sure guest worker programmes don't become a way of replacing American labour at less cost."
Tech companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, have championed the H-1B visa programme. According to WIRED, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have long argued that the H-1B visas allow their companies to fill the tech talent shortage.
While the White House did not share the order's language, a senior official told WIRED that the order will call on the Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to submit a list of administrative and legislative reforms that would take on abuse of the visa programme.
WIRED reported that could mean the administration is looking to crack down on firms that outsource worker for entry level positions and pay them below market salaries or prioritising visa applicants with master's degrees over those who hold bachelor's degrees. The order may also look for an overhaul of the lottery system used to decide which companies are allowed to sponsor the visas, an official said.
Instead of ordering the changes directly, the order requires the three departments to suggest changes to curb abuse. USA Today reported that the directive will not have a direct effect on this year's visa season, as that opened on 3 April. The H-2B seasonal worker visa, which Trump uses to staff his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago, will not be affected.
The executive order will also tackle the waivers and exemptions agencies use to bypass procurement laws favouring American-made goods. The directive requires agency heads to sign off on those waivers and to decide whether foreign governments are using unfair trade practices when deciding on the lowest responsible bidder, USA Today reported.