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President Donald Trump (R) at a White House meeting on immigration reform. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Trump has repeatedly called for a “merit-based” immigration system that his administration claimed will benefit thousands of highly-skilled migrants. But, as the AP reports, the Trump administration has made choices that are making it more difficult for skilled foreigners to obtain and retain work visas in the United States.

Why it matters: As Axios' Steve LeVine reported last week, the added difficulties to working in the U.S. — and simply, the uncertainties around the future — are causing the highly-skilled foreign workers that Trump covets to look elsewhere for jobs. One of the main beneficiaries? Canada.

What's happening:

  • His administration ended an Obama-era policy last year that had allowed foreign entrepreneurs to come to the U.S. to start companies. The visa was renewable for a 30-month term.
  • Trump is mulling a plan to halt work permits for the spouses of H-1B visa holders, which would ultimately discourage discourage H-1B visa applicants from staying in the country.
  • The H-1B visa program, the main avenue for high-skilled foreign workers to enter the country, currently allocates 85,000 visas annually, but the process for approval has become noticeably more strict. Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, which advocates for H1-B visas, told the AP: "We’ve got employees that are going through the process, who have gone through such a level of scrutiny and interrogatory that is unprecedented."

But, but, but: Joanne Fereirra, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told the AP that 92.5% of the visas are still approved, only 2% lower than under the Obama administration in 2016.

  • “The stuff that they’re actually doing is not so much restricting skilled immigration as enforcing the law,” Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank that supports reducing immigration, told the AP. “They’re rolling back some of the extralegal measures that other administrations have taken.”

Go deeper

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.

Muslim families hope to reunite following Biden's travel ban repeal

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Muslim Americans across the U.S. are celebrating President Biden's day-1 reversal of former President Trump's travel ban that targeted several Muslim-majority countries.

The big picture: The repeal of what many critics called the "Muslim ban" renews hope for thousands of families separated by Trump's order.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

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  3. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  4. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  5. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries.
  6. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.