The Collective Public Policy Voice of the Exchange Community

Buy American, Hire American (BAHA) Executive Order

On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed a “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order (EO), which focused primarily on strengthening the “Buy American” policies of the U.S. government and reforming the H-1B skilled worker visa program. The Administration made it clear that they envisioned the EO as part of a larger immigration reform effort. As a result, it was reported that senior Administration staff intended to significantly cut J-1 visas as a part of BAHA EO implementation, despite it never specifically mentioning J-1 visa programs.

However, Congress sent strong signals regarding its willingness to protect these valuable international exchange programs through initiatives in both the Senate and the House. These measures included a Senate Appropriations Committee directive in the form of a Fiscal Year 2018 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill amendment [Sec. 7034(d)(5)] and House Resolution 529. Both had strong bipartisan support in their respective chambers. The appropriations directive, included in Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, and 2020 enacted bills, reflected strong Congressional support for exchange programs that are vital to U.S. national security and economy.