A plan by the Trump administration would block spouses of H-1B visa holders, a category of skilled worker, from getting jobs in the U.S.

Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Changing Visa Program Could Upend Silicon Valley

Matt Bigler
July 03, 2018 - 12:08 pm

President Donald Trump's plan to forbid spouses of some immigrants from working in the U.S. could cost up to 100,000 jobs across the country, according to a new study, while some critics say it will inflict particular pain on Silicon Valley. 

The Trump administration proposal would change the H-1B visa program, a category reserved for highly skilled workers. If the changes go through, spouses of those visa holders would be ineligible to work in the country. 

The fate of the H-1B program has been a divisive issue.

Silicon Valley Leadership Group President David Guardino told KCBS Radio that it would be a grave mistake to prevent husbands and wives of the visa holders from finding jobs here. 

"This is truly sad news," said Guardino. "To think that we would block in any way hard-working spouses of immigrants, here because of their unique talents, from being able to work in the United Sates is not what we believe this country was founded on."

But some workers say they've lost high-paying tech jobs as companies used the H-1B program to lure cheaper labor from abroad. 

"I didn't get laid off for lack of work. I got laid off because somebody cheaper could do my job," said Craig Diangelo, an IT worker who told 60 Minutes that his company hired a replacement from India who earned half of his salary. 

Due to tightening restrictions on immigration, there's been an increase in Indian expats moving from the U.S. to Canada. Researchers from the University of Tennessee concluded that American companies could lose $1 million for each visa holder who bolts and that as many as 100,000 jobs could be lost. 

Former President Barack Obama's administration enabled spouses of H-1B visa holders to find jobs in 2015. The Department of Homeland Security has said it intends to do away with the rule.