President Trump has begun to follow through on another one of his campaign promises—reforming the H-1B visa program. He signed an executive order on April 18 directing federal agencies to implement a “Buy American, Hire American” strategy, part of which asked department heads to suggest reforms for granting those visas.
H-1B visas are distributed via a lottery system to skilled foreign workers to temporarily fill positions for which, ostensibly, domestic workers with the appropriate skill set can’t be found. Tech companies are avid supporters of the program and, in fact, have lobbied aggressively in the past for an increase in the number of slots. Currently, the United States grants 65,000 H-1B visas annually in addition to 20,000 more that are given to applicants with the equivalent of a U.S. master’s degree or higher. But tech is not the only beneficiary of this program—advanced manufacturing, which is experiencing a skills gap of its own, and the life sciences also have a stake.
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