The US tech industry and corporate sector has welcomed the “much-needed” review of the H-1B visa program ordered by President Donald Trump, expressing confidence that it would help them bring in the best and the brightest from across the world.
The executive order targeting the visa programme popular with Indian tech professionals was signed yesterday by Trump. Tech advocacy group FWD.US said the announcement should improve the visa system for highly-skilled workers.
“Highly skilled immigrants create new American jobs, raise wages for native-born workers, and contribute enormously to growing our economy. Finally, Congress should expand the number of H-1B visas offered while reforming the system to protect American workers,” said Todd Schulte, the group’s president.
Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer of the US Chamber of Commerce, Neil Bradley, said economic growth requires a skilled workforce, so it should be a priority to make sure American workers have the skills required to fill open jobs with American companies.
“It would be a mistake to close the door on high-skilled workers from around the world who can contribute to American businesses’ growth and expansion and make the U.S. more competitive around the world. The H-1B program plays an important role in addressing this need, but it can be improved,” Bradley said.
“We would encourage changes to the H-1B visas program,” IBM CFO Martin Schroeter told CNBC in an interview. “The intent is to short-term high-skill kinds of visas, which is exactly how we use. There is clearly some companies have entirely built their business models around the H-1B visa program which was not at all the intent.”
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said that while the announcement reflects the administration’s desire to move toward reforms to the H-1B program, there will be no immediate changes or impact on H-1B visas.
“Simply put, it appears that the agencies are asked to review policies related to all visa programs and recommend changes to root out ‘fraud and abuse’, and to propose additional reforms so that H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest-paid applicants,” the association said in a statement.
AILA president William A Stock said H-1B workers help transform state and local economies across the nation, adding that the immigration system is critical to all geographic and industry sectors, not just Silicon Valley. H-1B workers are also vital to the healthcare system, and to manufacturing and energy industries, he said.
“Any reforms proposed by the Trump Administration as a result of this Executive Order should be based on facts and data, not innuendo and anecdote, and must ensure that our immigration system, including the H-1B program, remain a viable tool for U.S. businesses seeking to build and maintain a globally competitive workforce,” Stock said.
Chicago-based Envoy, previously called VisaNow, said yesterday’s signing triggers a “top to bottom” performance review.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), A leading US science and tech policy thinktank, hoped that the goal of Trump’s executive order on the H-1B program is “mend it, don’t end it”.
Reforming the program could help improve its effectiveness in attracting the worlds best and the brightest, it said.
“We welcome proposals to make the program more effective. For example, replacing the H-1B lottery with a more merit- based system could advance the program’s goals of attracting people with advanced STEM skills. We also welcome efforts to root out abuse, better enforce the existing rules, and increase the salary requirements,” said ITIF president, Robert D Atkinson.