H-1B Visas: Room for Another Volte-Face?

Media Jumping the Gun, as Always!

With his many about-turns (China, Russia, Obamacare, Hillary Clinton, etc), U.S. President Donald Trump is now hardly taken seriously even by his supporters who have been seeing many of his poll promises evaporate.

Mr Trump is now expected to sign an Executive Order on H-1B visas this week, going by this CNBC report. As usual, the press has been quick to jump the gun. If he is going to sign the order in a day, the media could have waited for it to happen rather than rush to report some speculation and give it a “fake news” flavour. It is not a big scoop in any case.

After all, the order itself will not be the final word on the issue. If the report holds true, it is only meant to direct Federal agencies to make recommendations for changes to the H-1B visa programme.

So, it is going to be a long-drawn affair before it is formalised. If that happens, it is bound to have a big impact on outsourcing, body-shopping firms particularly from India such as TCS, HCL and Infosys who are now considering hiring Americans for roles in the U.S.

FTA Review

Moreover, executive orders have come to mean little under his administration as they can be challenged and even overturned by courts. Trump will then have no strategy up his sleeve, as was seen in the travel bans that were countered by the courts and technology firms.

The political mantra he wields is simple: Rake up a verbal storm and then take a quiet retreat. There are indications that all Free Trade Agreements the U.S. has with many countries will be reviewed in line with his “America First” policy.

Singapore has one under which more than 5000 H-1B1 visas are set aside for Singaporeans but that is not impacted by the current initiatives of the Trump Administration.

This BBC report summarises his key promises – before and after the elections.

A few of my earlier posts on the issue:

Fast-Track H-1b Visas on Hold

The “High-Skilled” and “Foreign Talent” Misnomer

The FT Factor – Aping the U.S. Not Right for Singapore

G Joslin Vethakumar



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