The number of H-1B visa applications has declined for the first time in years, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
Just 199,000 visa applications have been submitted for 2017, down 16% year-over-year from 236,000 applications received in 2016. The H-1B visa is a specialty visa for high-skilled occupations, and it's particularly popular among tech employers.
Tech companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and Google could be hit the hardest by this cutback. Every year, the US issues 85,000 new H-1B visas, and a further 100,000 are renewed. Most of these are issued to professionals in computer-related fields, according to Recode. A reduction in the number of visas being handed out could limit the opportunity these companies have in hiring skilled workers.
The reduced numbers could be a result of President Trump’s “America First” campaign. Keeping jobs in the US was a key theme during the first few weeks of Trump’s campaign. The administration also warned tech companies that it would be implementing a much more rigorous review process for visas, and would prosecute companies found to be favoring foreign workers over Americans. It’s possible that this rhetoric has scared away some skilled immigrants from applying.
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