International: Trump to sign executive order on foreign workers in high-skilled jobs

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 13:00

President Donald Trump is to sign an executive order to review a temporary visa programme used to place foreign workers in high-skilled US jobs.

The order will also direct agencies to enforce government rules on excluding foreign contractors from bids for government projects.

He will sign the so-called Buy America, Hire America order on a visit to a tool factory in the US state of Wisconsin.

The order is aimed at fulfilling his "America First" campaign promises.

But it falls way short of Mr Trump's campaign pledge to end the H-1B visa programme.

Trump will direct the State, Justice, Homeland Security and Labour departments to propose reforms to the scheme, which allows American employers to bring foreign workers to fill US jobs.

For now - Indian IT firms are trying to put on a brave face publicly. The boss of India's largest IT company - Tata Consultancy Services - has said that the current discourse on the issue in the US is driven by "emotions".

But they are confident that greater "engagement" with the Trump administration will help soften their stance towards H-1B visas. But privately executives at most Indian IT firms will admit they are worried.

They believe that President Trump is serious about bringing back jobs to the country. And any changes to the work visa process in the US is bad news for India's $150bn IT service industry.

Last year, it generated 60%, which translates to $64.8bn of revenue. And if they are forced to recruit employees from the US - which would lead to higher costs - then that would affect their profitability in the long term.