As US President-elect Donald Trump prepared to take control of the White House, a group of lawmakers were hurrying to create legislation to curb misuse of H-1B and L1 work visas.
This has spread a scare among IT professionals working in the US. The most impacted with this legislation will be Indians who wanted to work in the United States.
For this, Trump has chosen senator Jeff Sessions, the nominee for the post of Attorney General. Previously, the US president-elect had listed immigration reform among five executive actions he would take on his first day in office. They include asking the Department of Labor to investigate “all abuses of the visa programmes that undercut the American worker”.
The bill could hit Indian workers:
The ‘Protect and Grow American Jobs Act’ proposes these important changes to the eligibility requirements for H-1B visas:
1. The bill seeks to remove the Master’s degree exemption for H-1B applicants, which helped the applicants to skip additional paperwork if they have an equivalent of a Master’s or higher degree. A large number of Indian applicants generally hold the Master’s degree.
2. The bill prevents companies to hire more if they have over 50 employees and 50 per cent of them on H-1B or L1 visas (temporary transfer of foreign workers to US.)
3. The bill proposes to raise the minimum salary of H-1B visa to $100,000 per annum (currently it is $60,000 per annum). This will make US companies hire more local talent, as hiring Indian IT professionals would become less attractive.
Hiring under H1B visa programme
The US H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa, which allows firms to hire foreign workers in specialised occupations. Under this programme, US-based companies hire highly skilled foreign workers, up to a maximum of 85,000 a year—65,000 hired abroad and 20,000 from among foreign nationals studying in the US. Out of 65,000, nearly 25,000-35,000 are issued to Indian nationals.
Nasscom denies the notion that Indian IT professionals taking over US jobs
Shivendra Singh, vice-president in charge of global trade development at the National Association of Software and Services Companies or Nasscom, said the top seven Indian companies account for just 13 per cent of the H1B and L1 visas issued every year, and the rest are used by major US companies who hire Indian IT professionals.
The Indian IT sector is a net jobs creator in the US, he said.
“We support more than 400,000 jobs in the US, we contribute $20 billion as taxes to the US economy and we play a role in making America more competitive,” he added.
The US Labor Department figures suggest that a shortage of skilled workers within the US labour pool was what was causing Indian as well as US companies to hire Indian IT professionals, he said.
Impact on Indian job-seekers
The bill could mean a decent package for them in the US. However, it would lead to more people trying visas under other routes such as L1. The L1 visa is not subject to numerical or salary restrictions, but the bill proposes setting wage requirements for it too.
Trump, during his election campaign, had targeted IBM and other Indian firms in America like TCS and HCL for outsourcing jobs, mainly from India.