Trump signs executive order targeting specialty work visas: 5 things to know

President Donald Trump signed an executive order, titled "Buy American, Hire American," on Tuesday, calling for a reform of the H-1B temporary specialty work visa program.

President Trump signed the order during an event at the headquarters of Snap-on, a Kenosha, Wis.-based manufacturer of professional tools and equipment.

"The 'Buy and Hire American' order I'm about to sign will help protect workers and students like those of you in the audience today," President Trump said to the employees at Snap-on.

Here are five things health IT leaders should know.

1. Through the H-1B visa program, companies can sponsor skilled specialty employees for up to six years. These visas allow roughly 85,000 immigrants to enter the United States each year, and most work in high-tech jobs, the New York Times reports.

2. However, in recent years, a large portion of H-1B visas have been awarded to outsourcing firms rather than skilled workers, Forbes reports. Trump administration officials told the New York Times 80 percent of immigrants who enter the United States with H-1B visas are paid less than median wage compared to others in their fields.

Technology companies, in particular, have used H-1B visas to recruit low-wage foreign workers, according to the New York Times.

3. Critics of H-1B, including President Trump, say companies have used the program to replace American workers with low-wage foreign workers. At Snap-on, President Trump said reforming the H-1B program will send "a powerful signal to the world: We're going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first."

4. Many technology executives have spoken out against President Trump's intended H-1B reform, saying companies will move offshore if these policy changes are put in place, according to the New York Times. However, others say updating the definition of "skilled" labor under H-1B will ensure visas attract high-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers, Forbes reports.

5. The new executive order does not change current visa rules yet, according to ABC News. It orders the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and State Department to review the visa waiver system and investigate cases of abuse.

"Right now, H1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery — and that's wrong," President Trump said at Snap-on. "Instead, they should be given to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans."

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