President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday that will overhaul a visa program that allows thousands of foreign doctors to work in the United States.
Trump’s action aims to make good on his “Buy American, Hire American” campaign promise and is intended to make it harder for tech companies to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor, according to The Washington Post.
But it could also impact the country’s healthcare system, since the H-1B visa program, which allows immigrants to work temporarily for a specific employer, last year allowed U.S. hospitals and healthcare organizations to fill approximately 10,500 physician positions across the country, according to a research letter published in JAMA.
Trump plans to sign the executive order during a visit Tuesday to Wisconsin. It will call for a review of the H-1B visa program, with the goal of reforming the program, senior administration officials told news outlets.
Some 2,156 healthcare employers rely on physicians who hold H-1B visas, particularly in medically underserved areas, according to the JAMA study.
“The elimination, restriction or modification of the H-1B program may affect hospitals and states that employ large numbers of visa holders,” researchers said.
It’s not clear how much the order would effect doctors who hold visas as White House officials, in a background call with reporters, singled out the H-1B visa for high-skilled foreigners in the science and engineering industries as the priority for reform, the Post reported. However, a comprehensive review could lead to changes in other programs.
The executive order will require federal agencies to perform administrative reviews immediately and propose reforms to ensure that the H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled and highest paid workers, officials said. One possible change is raising visa application fees.
Another change to the visa program—the elimination of “premium processing” that allowed employers to fast-track visa applications—has been temporarily suspended, leaving hospital up against the clock to get approvals for more than 3,800 foreign international residents who in March were offered jobs as medical residents. The announcement about the suspension was made in March in the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order for a temporary travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries, an order that has since been put on hold by a federal judge.