How Trump's 'Buy American' order could play out

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 21, 2017

The order signed by Mr Trump yesterday targets the H-1B visa programme.

Outsourcing firms have always been a thorn in the side of USA tech companies, who say they struggle to compete for a limited number of visas for high-skilled workers against large firms recruiting lower-skilled computer workers for below-market wages.

Second, under a paragraph entitled: "Ensuring the Integrity of the Immigration System in Order to 'Hire American, '" the EO requests that various agencies and departments promulgate new rules and guidance to "supersede or revise previous rules and guidance, if appropriate" under existing law to protect American workers. "Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans", the US President asserted.

Reforming the program could help improve its effectiveness in attracting the worlds best and the brightest, it said.

"Buy American" provisions already exist in USA law but policing them has been hard because of waivers granted to foreign companies that undercut their US counterparts on pricing.

That's the first step for companies in applying for H-1B visas for candidates who have been offered jobs.

The US president said the order aims to "aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job", adding that the move was in line with his plans to put "America First".

The Baltimore school system was also one of the state's largest H-1B employers, even though it now has only about a quarter of its original contingent of Filipinos, Legaspi said.

In a news briefing ahead of the order Monday night, a White House official called out several global outsourcing companies by name, accusing the firms of flooding the H1-B program with applications and scooping up the "lion's share of the visas".

"The media talk about all of the workers going to Silicon Valley, but that's not the full narrative", she said.

MA ranks sixth in the nation in the number of H-1B workers - behind California, New Jersey, Texas, New York and Florida, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The government allows 85,000 immigrants each year through the H-1B visa programme, which is reserved for foreign nationals in "specialty occupations" and is largely used by the technology industry.

Foreign work visas, which are also known as H-1B visas, are known to be very important to hiring practices of tech companies in the US such as Google, Microsoft and Apple. These companies connect USA technology firms with thousands of foreign engineers and programmers.

Among the state's top employers of H-1B workers are Harvard University, State Street Bank, Brigham and Women's Hospital, IBM and Deloitte Consulting.

"Nearly half of the companies in our incubator were started by people who weren't born in the United States", she said. The company employs about 11,000 people worldwide. Students who are disinclined to attend school in the US may be less likely to apply for work here afterwards, no matter how "qualified" they may be.

Government contracting "is a highly complex area, with lots of exceptions and exceptions to exceptions", says Stephanie Harden, a lawyer specializing in government contracts at Blank Rome LLP. An official with the Department of Homeland Security said it is premature to discuss potential changes. "Because it's vital to the tech industry and the nation's economy".

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