President Trump this week signed an executive order as a part of his “America First” campaign, in which he kick-starts an internal process to reform visa programs that allow high-skilled foreign workers to temporarily live and work in the United States.  

Here are three things to know about President Trump’s executive order on high-skilled immigration reform:

The executive order asks the agencies to make recommendations for reform

The executive order does not make any changes to the immigration system. It rather asks the agencies in charge of these programs to offer recommendations on how to reform them and make them more protective of American workers. The primary focus for reform is the H-1B visa program which allows U.S. companies to temporarily employ tens of thousands of high-skilled foreign workers, predominantly in technology, medical and science fields.

The real action lies with Congress

Any major changes to the immigration system must come from the Congress, not the executive branch. While federal agencies will make their recommendations, changes in the number and types of workers that will be eligible to obtain an H-1B visa are determined by lawmakers, not regulators. 

What H-1B advocates need to do in this challenging environment

The emergent nationalist and populist sentiment in the country makes it harder for immigration advocates and companies to make the argument for high-skilled immigration programs. Supporters of these programs need to ensure their perspective is part of the discussion as federal agencies develop their recommendations, and they need to refine their messages to resonate in the current political environment. 

I discuss these issues in the below video

 

gadi-dechter-sq
Gadi Dechter

Gadi Dechter is a senior director and leads the public affairs practice in APCO’s Washington, D.C., office. Read More