Hyderabad: Not only IT workers but a whole set of other skilled workers - from market research analysts to financial advisers, web developers, teachers, artists, medicos and paramedics - are going to bear the brunt of new President Donald Trump's anti-videshi policy.
Not many people dreaming of moving to the US are going to succeed as a new bill proposed by the Congress is likely to affect workers across the sectors including the IT industry. With most of them drawing salaries between the $60,000 to $100,000 cap, they are not even eligible to apply for a visa.
Trump has listed immigration reform among five executive actions he plans to take on his first day in office. They include asking the Department of Labor to investigate “all abuses of the visa programs that undercut the American worker.”
Skilled employment in the US is now more difficult than ever before, as US Congressmen reintroduced a bill last week that has upped the limit for H1B visas.The bill has raised the benchmark from $60,000 to a minimum of $100,000 to be able to work in America. It also seeks to remove a master's degree exemption that currently exists. Unlike popular perception that ties H1B visas with the IT industry, a lot of non-IT workers too are going to be impacted by this move.
IT professionals can somehow meet this threshold but teachers, lecturers and professionals in several other sectors are paid much less and their American dream is going to be only a daydream for now.
In fact, chances of a visa approval also depend on the skillset being applied for. Immigration lawyers said that the new measures would force people to try visas under other routes such as L1 if they are qualified and EB5 if they have the money. Some people will also try under the O1 category, which is in recognition of people with extraordinary talent in the field of arts, music, education, science, sports, etc.
H-1B Visa Curbs Coming, Says Donald Trump’s Pick For US Attorney General
US President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the post of attorney general has assured lawmakers of taking steps towards pushing legislative measures to curb misuse of H-1B and L1 work visas significantly used by Indian IT professionals.
"It’s simply wrong to think that we’re in a totally open world and that any American with a job can be replaced if somebody in the world is willing to take a job for less pay," Senator Jeff Sessions told members of Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing for the position of US attorney general.
"We have borders. We have a commitment to our citizens and you have been a champion of that. I've been honored to work with you on it," Sessions said in response to a question from Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
India is the largest single country source for H-1B hires, by both Indian firms operating in the US and American companies such as Cognizant, IBM and others. The Indian companies and their American partners will be hit the hardest with restrictions.
Under the H-1B visa program, 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.
In the past, both Sessions and Grassley have worked together to bring legislations on H-1B visas that can badly hit Indian IT companies.
The Office of Special Counsel for immigration-related unfair employment practices is an office within the Justice Department, which would be headed by Sessions if he is confirmed by the US Senate.
The office enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of Immigration and Nationality Act.
"While the office is designed to protect foreign nationals with employment visas from discrimination, it is also charged with ensuring that American workers are not discriminated against in the workplace."
Many US workers advocate that the layoff of American workers and the replacement by cheaper, foreign, H-1B workers constitutes de facto nationality based discrimination against American workers," Grassley said.
"The Obama administration has failed to protect American workers here. Will you, this is my question, will you be more aggressive in investigating the abuses of these visa programs?" he asked.
"I believe this has been an abuse. And I have been pleased to support your legislation and some others too, that others have produced that I believe could be helpful. It needs to be addressed," Sessions said.
Describing Sessions as a vocal champion for American workers, Grassley said many American workers are being laid off and replaced by cheaper foreign labor imported through some of the US visa programs.
Sessions, Grassley and Senator Dick Durbin in the past had co-sponsored a bill that would reform H-1B visa programs by ensuring that qualified American workers are considered for high skilled job opportunities before those jobs can be offered to foreign nationals.
"It also prohibits a company from hiring H-1B employees if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50% of their employees are H-1B or L1 visa holders," he said.
Trump has listed immigration reform among five executive actions he plans to take on his first day in office. They include asking the Department of Labor to investigate "all abuses of the visa programs that undercut the American worker."
Bill on H-1B visas
A bill backing key changes in the H1-B program that allows skilled workers from countries like India to fill high-tech jobs in the US has been re-introduced in the US Congress last week by two lawmakers who claim that it will help crack down on the work visa abuse.
The ‘Protect and Grow American Jobs Act’ that makes important changes to the eligibility requirements for H-1B Visa exemptions was re-introduced on January 5 by Republican Darrell Issa and Scott Peters – both from California.
Among other things, the bill aims to increase the minimum salary of H-1B visa to $100,000 per annum and eliminate the Masters Degree exemption.
The ‘Protect and Grow American Jobs Act’ that makes important changes to the eligibility requirements for H-1B Visa exemptions was re-introduced on January 5.