Trump Issues Executive Order on H-1B Visas
President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday that aims to target fraud and abuse in guest-worker programs and increase federal oversight of the H-1B visa program for highly skilled foreigners, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education. The measure directs federal agencies to recommend changes to the program to "ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries."
The order could have a major effect on American colleges' recruitment of students abroad, the Chronicle reported, as policies that block foreign students' pathway to work in the United States after they graduate can weaken international enrollments.
The H-1B visa program is important to institutions both because many international students look to it as a route to permanent residency in the U.S. and because universities use H-1Bs to hire postdoctoral researchers and others from abroad, according to Inside Higher Ed. Universities and other nonprofit or governmental research organizations are exempt from the cap on new H-1B visas, which are otherwise limited to 85,000 per year.
"Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery -- and that's wrong," the president said during a speech in Wisconsin. "Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans."
While it is unclear exactly how the program will be reformed, a senior Trump administration official suggested that it could be modified to favor workers with advanced degrees. However, the official did not indicate whether preference might be given to graduates of American universities.
White House Executive Order
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Inside Higher Ed