The new order asks agencies to propose ideas to direct visas to the most skilled and highly paid applicants-it doesn't dictate any specifics about how to achieve the goal.
President Donald Trump signed a "Buy American" executive order in Wisconsin on Tuesday.
The order accords with Trump's campaign promise to review visa programs so as to prioritize American workers.
"The H-1B visa program is commonly discussed as being for when employers have a labor shortage", said Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute.
About 6 percent of the visas now go to the Labor Department's top skill level, while eight in 10 workers on the visa are paid less than the median wage for their fields, the White House said in a fact sheet. Data from 2010, the most recent year available, shows that while foreign-owned firms obtained $837 billion in contracts from the USA government, American-owned firms received just $381 billion from the next five largest countries with which we have trade agreements.
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He is targeting the H-1B visa program, which the White House says undercuts American workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper, foreign workers, driving down wages. "We believe jobs must be offered to American workers first".
The order addresses the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and State Department to "take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse" within the US immigration system in order to "protect workers". The Chamber of Commerce added that it would be a "mistake to close the door on high-skilled workers" who can contribute to the growth and expansion of American businesses and make the USA more competitive around the world. As per Trump's speech to media on Tuesday, the president yet again made an attempt to stress "Buy American - Hire American" policy.
Trump said the order would "aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job".
Up to 85,000 H-1B visas are issued annually by the US authorities, but demand has far outstripped supply in recent years, according to local media reports.
An April 3 announcement by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also detailed "multiple measures" to deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse. The halt is expected to last up to six months.
Tech companies contend the programme is used to recruit top talent, but some of the H-1B visas are also used for outsourcing firms. Reports state that the order will not affect other such guest worker visas like the H-2B seasonal worker visa used by USA farms and agriculturists and Trump's own resorts.