The decree concerns the popular H-1B visa that enables universities and companies to take on temporary foreign staff. This visa is valid only for certain groups. Applicants must have at least a Bachelor's degree and, what's more, a signed employment contract. Many foreign lecturers and researchers at American universities depend on the visa.
According to news broadcaster Al Jazeera, the visa is also often used by the ICT industry in Silicon Valley, where many foreign scientists and young graduates are employed. In America such capable staff are hard to find, claim these companies.
The White House is worried that the visa will be misused in order to bring cheap labor into the country. Last January the University of California came under attack because it had dismissed forty-nine well-paid ICT staff and outsourced their work to India.
The new decree is called 'Buy American, Hire American'. A strict approval regime is intended to ensure that the visas are issued only to the “highest paid and best experts” and that Americans are not disadvantaged. Critics are referring to the decision as “gesture politics”.
Foreign students should not in principle be hindered by the new decree because they gain entry to the US under a different type of visa. Only when they want to stay on and work might they encounter problems.
This is not an inconceivable scenario, says Anne Lutgerink of internationalization organization Nuffic. “We are seeing that increasing numbers of Dutch students are not only considering a study program abroad but are also interested in the possibilities offered by the local employment market.”