When he was campaigning to become the President of the United States of America Donald Trump had promised that under his reign the country would be following a couple of simple rules – buying American and hiring American. Recently, a new bill looking to make changes to the H-1B visa programme has been placed for consideration at the Senate. This has led to reports which state that the President is looking to sign an executive order regarding said issue.
There are a few things that Indians – especially the skilled ones – need to know about the changes that seem to be inevitable down the line. It is expected that Indians would indeed be affected to a major extent by the said changes and their prospects of working in the United States of America could be affected as well.
What do you mean by H-1B visa?
H-1B visa is based on employment and can be categorized as a non-immigrant visa. It is provided to temporary workers. In order for you to get the visa your employer needs to offer you a temporary working opportunity in the United States and also apply with the United States Immigration Department. This process can also be termed as H-1B visa petition.
Status of these visas
As far as work visas are concerned H-1B happens to be the most sought after. In 2016, as per the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, there were 236,000 applications for these visas and that too within five days of the process being opened. In the general category the maximum number of applications that can be sent is 65,000. As can be seen, this number is easily more than thrice than innigration said number.
What changes are being proposed to the same?
Senators of the United States of America have brought about various bills that have sought to make different changes to the H-1B visas, as well as the L-1 visas. They have asked to double the minimum salary of visa holders to 130,000 dollars. 20 per cent of the visas are supposed to be set apart for employers of startups and smaller enterprises. They have also said that the “per country” cap should be done away with so that equal distribution of same can be ensured.
Firms that are now hiring holders of H-1B visas first need to make a concerted effort to hire an American. Students who have been educated in the United States need to be given preference instead of using the computerized lottery system. Outsourcing companies that get in workers for temporary training and then send them back to their home countries in order to do the same work are now going to face tough times if the proposed changes are agreed upon.
In the same way, spouses of people who have H-1B visas may not be given permission to work in the United States of America. If a company has more than 50 employees and if at least 50 per cent of them have L-1 or H-1B visas then they would be barred from hiring more people on H-1B visas. The Department of Labor will also be asked to tighten its vetting and audit rules in order to come down on misuse or fraud of these visa applications.
Who are looking for reforms?
Darrell Issa, a Republican Congressman from California, is one of the first people to have spoken out on the issue. He has revived a legislation in order to plug the loopholes that are there in the immigration of high-skilled professionals and make sure that American jobs are not going outside the country. Also in this list are Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, and Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois.