Visa changes could mean less talent for St. Louis, KC tech companies

A draft of an executive order that’s been circulating has tech companies across the U.S. — including several in Kansas City and St. Louis — bracing for changes.

President Donald Trump is taking aim again at a mainstay of the American workforce, this time with a draft proposal to potentially overhaul the various visa programs that provide thousands of immigrants legal status to temporarily live and work in the United States.

Of particular prominence among the programs in question is the nation’s H-1B visa system, a primary source of talent for many of the largest technology companies. With about 300,000 applications certified each year, 85,000 skilled and educated residents from abroad are granted legal work status each year through a lottery system.

News broke last week of Trump’s plan to evaluate and possibly issue new executive orders to make the nation’s visa programs “more efficient.” However, Missouri employers say the changes could affect thousands of skilled workers.

According to 2016 data from the Department of Labor, well over 1,000 H-1B visas were issued last year to Kansas City area companies, including Overland Park firms with 798; Kansas City, 384; and North Kansas City, 316.

St. Louis ranked 88th among 98 U.S. cities examined with 1,157 H-1B visas in 2016.

Read more: St. Louis Business Journal, Kansas City Business Journal

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