In a blow to Indian IT professionals eyeing the US job market, President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from contracting or outsourcing foreign workers – mainly those with an H-1B visa – to hire.
The move came more than a month after the Trump administration on June 23 suspended H-1B visas and other types of overseas work visas until the end of 2020 to protect American workers in a crucial election year. The new restrictions took effect on June 24.
The H1B visa, the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a nonimmigrant visa that allows US businesses to employ foreign workers in specialized occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
Tech companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees every year in countries like India and China.
“Today, I am signing an executive order to ensure that the federal government live by a very simple rule, the highest in America,” Trump told reporters in the White House Oval Office before signing the order against it. hiring H1B visa holders for federal contracts.
Trump told reporters his administration would not tolerate the dismissal of hard-working Americans in search of cheap foreign labor.
“As we speak, we are finalizing the H-1B regulation so that no American worker is ever replaced again. H-1B should be used for top high-paying talent to create American jobs, not as training programs. cheap labor and destroying American jobs, ”said the President who was surrounded on the other side of the Cabinet table with individuals campaigning against the outsourcing of jobs.
Among them were Sara Blackwell, founder and president of the Florida-based Protect US Workers organization; Jonathan Hicks, software engineer at the Tennessee Valley Authority; and Kevin Lynn, founder of US Tech Workers, based in Pennsylvania.
The executive order requires all federal agencies to perform an internal audit and assess whether they meet the requirement that only U.S. citizens and nationals be appointed to competitive service. As a result, the Department of Labor will also finalize guidelines to prevent H-1B employers from moving H-1B workers to other employers’ job boards to move American workers.
Trump’s order follows an announcement by the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to outsource 20% of its tech jobs to companies based in foreign countries.
The TVA action could result in the loss of more than 200 highly skilled U.S. workers in Tennessee to low-wage foreign workers hired on temporary work visas, the president said.
Outsourcing hundreds of workers is particularly damaging amid a pandemic, which has already cost millions of Americans their jobs, the White House said in a statement.
Given the current climate of rampant intellectual property theft, outsourcing IT jobs that involve sensitive information could pose a risk to national security, he said.
White House says Trump’s actions will help tackle employer misuse of H-1B visas, which were never intended to replace skilled U.S. workers with cheap foreign labor .
One of the attendees present at the signing of the ordinance told the president that up to 70 percent of the H-1B visa goes to people from India.
Trump has said he is in favor of a merit-based immigration system that attracts highly skilled people who create jobs in the United States and do not take jobs from Americans.
“We will be discussing an immigration bill very soon, which covers this and many other things. It will be a very, very comprehensive bill. It is a word some people like, and d “Others hate it. But it would be very comprehensive only in the sense that it covered pretty much everything. It will be merit based. It will cover territory that no one thought could ever have been accepted,” said Trump.
The bill, he said, will be signed after the convention.
“Immigration will be very merit-based, but it will be, it will be great for the worker. And it will be great for the people who come to our country, but who come to our country legally and love the country and want helping our country as opposed to the people coming in. And they don’t like our country, ”Trump said.