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Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

President Trump's hardline stance on immigration and his administration's policies designed to make it more difficult to win visas to work in the United States are making the once-esteemed H-1B visa less desirable, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, worrying tech companies that depend on that labor.

Why it matters: H-1B advocates and employers argue that there are real skills gaps in the U.S. that make hiring foreign talent through programs like H-1B crucial for keeping Silicon Valley tech companies on the cutting edge.

The big picture: For the second year in a row, the number of H-1B applications dropped. The U.S. is no longer the only place with a blossoming technology hub, allowing top talent to go elsewhere if they encounter visa difficulties.

  • “People used to not be able to use their skills back in China, Taiwan and India. But now you can,” AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Information, told the Chronicle.

How we got here: The Trump administration has increased scrutiny toward H-1B requests — with the number of challenges to those requests rising by 45% in 2017, according to Reuters.

  • Industry experts say that H-1B visa sponsors and employers receive more "Requests for Evidence" from the Trump administration than ever before.
  • It is now harder for H-1B outsourcers, who send H-1B workers to third-party worksites, to win H-1B visas.
  • Computer programmers are no longer eligible for H-1B.
  • The Trump administration is expected to cancel work authorization for the spouses of H-1B holders.

The key quote from the Chronicle's reporting:

"This is the fourth time that Yadav, who has two academic degrees and works as a manager at a consulting company, has tried to get to the U.S. He has a job waiting for him in the Bay Area if he can secure an H-1B visa. But he keeps getting rejected. And if it doesn’t work out this time — even with the help of Lord Balaji — he’s going to stop trying."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

The quick FCC fix that would get more students online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.

State of play: An existing FCC program known as E-rate provides up to $4 billion for broadband at schools, but Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai has resisted modifying the program during the pandemic to provide help connecting students at home.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America's hidden depression

Biden introduces his pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, on Dec. 1. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Biden faces a fragile recovery that could easily fall apart, as the economy remains in worse shape than most people think.

Why it matters: There is a recovery happening. But it's helping some people immensely and others not at all. And it's that second part that poses a massive risk to the Biden-Harris administration's chance of success.