President Donald Trump this week issued an executive order aimed at tamping down fraud and abuse of the H-1B temporary work visa program.
This is the same program at the center of a nearly two-year federal investigation of Wright State University, which may have used it to provide workers for area companies – including some connected to university trustees – in possible violation of program rules.
But the program’s impact on the region is broader than that. An I-Team investigation last year found that 82 percent of the 33,348 applications for H-1B visas in Ohio in 2015 were for jobs paying below-average wages; often working for companies that specialize in outsourcing.
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The owner of a Cleveland IT consulting firm said the H-1B program makes American workers less competitive and is “a huge job and industry killer for us.”
Another I-Team investigation in 2015 found federal agencies routinely fine companies and public agencies for running afoul of program rules, but such violations rarely result in criminal charges.
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Trump’s order would direct U.S. agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the program. They would also be asked to offer changes so that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid applicants.
The number of requests for H-1B visas declined this year by about 15 percent, or roughly 37,000 applications, but the total was still nearly 200,000, far more than the 85,000 limit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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