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Nine days into office and more than a dozen executive orders later, Donald has been making a lot of waves. One initiative that hasn’t yet seen an executive order put against it, is an issue that has been consistently touted throughout his campaign – Hire American, Buy American.  One way to do that is by restricting the H-1B visa. This visa is a working visa in the U.S. that provides guidelines around what non-citizens to hire for various jobs, especially those in Tech. This is a huge impact on countries like India, who export highly-educated and highly-skilled workers to the states for a limited amount of time. It seems there are government officials from both parties supporting the re-introduction of more restrictive rules for the visa, prioritizing the hiring of American workers before considering those of foreign countries.

For the last few years, the number of applications have exceeded the annual quota for H-1Bs… in a matter of a few days. Clearly the desire of foreign workers to enter the U.S. is extremely high. Furthermore, the desire for American companies to hire H-1Bs is very high, namely due to the fact that foreign labor is cheaper even when you consider the high costs of hiring a worker via H-1B. The new proposed bill would increase the minimum salary payout of these workers to $100K a year. Additionally, the amount of time that foreign graduates are allowed to find employment (currently three years) would be reduced to one year.

I’m not here to propose policy, but I think the initiative is in the best interest of the American economy. It lessens the incentives for companies to hire non-American workers, along with being more practical in the election process by avoiding random selection of H-1Bs. However, the details matter. How did we land on $100K salary minimum? Is 85,000 the right quota for total accepted visas? And how can we incentivize foreign workers to contribute to the American economy outside of working at their given company? Like most political issues, these are difficult questions. It’ll be interesting to see how America votes, but it’s safe to say that there will be restrictions imposed early in Trump’s tenure given bi-partisan agreement.

I’m reminded of a video snippet of Dr. Michio Kaku where he speaks to the importance of the H-1B and how it serves as “America’s secret weapon.” America’s education system sucks, but his argument is that the program attracts highly-skilled, educated foreign workers that, in effect, advance the American economy. As a friend of others who have gone through the process of H-1B applications, I totally agree – they do much more good for American companies than harm. But mandating a process that further qualifies foreign workers in the best interest of America’s workforce is needed, especially if they’re applying in droves. There’s clearly room to be especially picky if they’re beating down American corporate doors.

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