Last week, president Donald Trump signed a “Buy American, Hire American” executive order in line with his campaign promises. At a factory in Wisconsin, the president promised the audience that the executive order will protect American workers and students. He also added that it will promote American products and ensure companies will hire Americans first.
Several senior officials mentioned the lack of enforcement of “Buy American” and how it is hurting the American economy. They also argued that the executive order will help protect American workers and manufacturers.
The executive order doesn’t include specific laws to be implemented. It does, however, give directions to the heads of federal departments. In particular, the president urged federal agencies to make assessments of the current programs and develop new policies.
“Buy American, Hire American” and the H1B visa
When it comes to the H1B visa, the president specifically called for a review of the program. The current administration voiced concerns over abuses of the H1B visa in the past. Specifically, it accused companies of hiring cheap foreign labor. So the president is asking federal agencies to implement stricter laws to prevent any fraud. He also wants measures to ensure that the visas go to the most deserving candidates. However, the order didn’t include any details on these measures or how they will be implemented.
In contrast to “Buy American”, the executive order didn’t set any deadline for “Hire American”. Thus, there isn’t a specific timeline for when any changes to the H1B program will happen. Though, the president did ask the heads of federal immigration agencies to suggest reforms to the program “as soon as practicable”. He also clearly stated that he would like to see changes that benefit the most-skilled or highest-paid workers.
Impact on current H1B holders
Since the executive order didn’t mention any immediate action and only called for future changes, there will be no impact on current H1B holders. However, there might be changes in the future that replace the famous H1B lottery. Any new system will likely favor the highest-paid since it’s easy to implement. Such system will not obviously be immune to abuse or fraud.