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  • U.S. President Donald Trump plan to discontinue the lottery system for H1B visas.

    U.S. President Donald Trump plan to discontinue the lottery system for H1B visas. | Photo: Reuters

On Monday the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced preventative measures it intends to implement to prevent H1B visa fraud.

The H1B visa is used by U.S. employers to bring in specialized foreign workers into the country temporarily. A White House official stated that U.S. President Donald Trump, though seemingly preoccupied, may still make good on his campaign promise to overhaul the program. Trump has planned to discontinue the lottery system for H1B visas. The Visa Lottery program offers 65,000 positions yearly to be filled by foreign applicants.

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Businesses, especially in the technology sector, rely heavily on the H1B visa system for employees. Silicon Valley, the U.S. technology center, employ the skills of many non-Americans. Some of the most recognizable tech advancements were invented by foreigners.

Tech magnates were under the impression that Trump was tweaking the lottery to prioritize these highly skilled workers. The companies rely on the program to bring in workers with special skills and have lobbied for an expansion of the number of H1B visas awarded. The Trump Administration instead called for increased transparency from H1B applicants as well as issued a warning to the Justice Department to crack down on visa abuse. "These are important first steps to bring more accountability and transparency to the H1B system," a White House official said. "The administration is considering several additional options for the president to use his existing authority to ensure federal agencies more rigorously enforce all aspects of the program."

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However, the lottery for 2018 is already opened without any visible changes. The start of the lottery is viewed as the unofficial deadline for the Trump Administration to enact H1B visa reform. The administration's failure to meet that deadline points to a possible delay in the overhaul. A glimmer of hope for the tech industry, but not lobbyists. "More oversight is a good start, but employers can still use the program legally to depress wages and replace American workers. That falls short of the promises President Trump made to protect American workers," said Peter Robbio, a spokesman for Numbers USA, a Washington-based group that advocates for limiting immigration into the United States.

"These are important first steps to bring more accountability and transparency to the H1B system," a White House official said. "The administration is considering several additional options for the president to use his existing authority to ensure federal agencies more rigorously enforce all aspects of the program."

Trump's senior adviser Stephen Miller have argued the program gives jobs that Americans could fill to foreign workers at a less expensive cost. The measures announced by the Department of Homeland Security focus on site visits by U.S. authorities to employers who use H1B visas. During these site visits, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agents will investigate inconsistencies in employer's information, employers who have a high ratio of H1B to U.S. workers and employers who petition for H1B workers who work off-site.


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