H-1B visas are granted for three years at a time to foreign workers that have specialized knowledge in fields where there are a shortage of American workers, typically in science, information technology and engineering. They are an important gateway for many attracted by tech hubs across the country. The catch to Trump's much touted "buy American, hire American" effort, however, it that it will not prevent President Trump from continuing to hire cheap labor for his own properties.
Trump asked U.S. secretary of state, attorney general, secretary of labour and secretary of homeland security "to suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid beneficiaries".
"Right now H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery and that's wrong".
Trump also wants to toughen up the requirement that American-made goods be used in certain federal construction projects or in highway projects that are paid for with federal grants.
Trump said Canada has been "very, very unfair" to dairy farmers and "we're going to start working on that".
But Trump returned to Tuesday to the economic tough talk of his campaign, saying: "We're going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all", referring to the Clinton-era USA trade pact with Canada and Mexico.
The new executive order, of course, leaves the H-2B visa system and application process completely unchanged. The order does not, however, define what "most skilled" means.
The US president can not, by a simple decree, change the number of visas allocated. Department of Homeland Security officials said they will require that programmers applying for these visas provide evidence the work they're doing is highly specialized and complex.
With Indian nationals comprising some of the biggest beneficiaries of the H-IB visa program, some of the outsourcing firms that would likely be affected by changes include Infosys Ltd, Cognizant Tech Solutions Corp and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.
Employers from Walt Disney World to the University of California in San Francisco have laid off their tech employees and replaced them with H-1B visa holders. A corrected version of the story is below: Trump targets visa program he says hurts American workers President Donald Tr.