The technology sector is bracing for more scrutiny of their hiring practices once President-Elect Donald Trump and proposed Attorney General Sen. Jeff Sessions come into power in January.
According to a report by Reuters, Sessions has long been against the skilled worker program, which, via H-1B visas, allows around 65,000 workers and an additional 20,000 graduate students to be employed by the tech industry in the U.S. In the past, technology companies have lobbied the government to expand the program, but under the Trump administration, they may have to fight to keep the program on the books, reported Reuters. Reuters noted Trump hasn’t said outright whether or not he would get rid of it — in some instances, he criticized the visas, and then, in other appearances during the run-up to the election, he said it’s an important way to keep foreign talent in the U.S.
Sessions, on the other hand, has long been a critic of the program and, according to Reuters, has sought to scale it back, even introducing legislation to make the visas not as readily available to big outsourcing companies, including Infosys. Outsourcing firms tend to be the biggest users of the visa program. Reuters cited Sessions as saying at a recent hearing that “thousands of U.S. workers are being replaced by foreign labor.”
The report went on to note that big technology companies, including Microsoft and Google, hire skilled workers outside the U.S. and pay up for these foreign workers that have skills that are in short supply in the U.S. On the flip side, outsourcing companies, like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, which are both located in India, use the program to employ lower wage workers, which critics contend don’t end up with green cards, reported Reuters. The report noted that, in 2016, companies filed 236,000 petitions for the 85,000 available visas.