Just before polls, Trump changes H1-B visa rules

Gujarat Global News Network,New Delhi

In a big blow to Indians, US President Donald Trump has announced a tightening of rules for H1B visas used widely by the technology firms, claiming the ”new system would be better for American workers”.

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Tuesday the new regulations for  H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, which allow up to 85,000 immigrants annually.

The move to cut back H-1B visas for foreign skilled workers and tighten wage-based entry barriers citing “data” that more than 500,000 Americans have lost their jobs because of “H1B non-immigrants” is likely to affect the Indian techies the most.

One major change applies to any H-1B visa worker who is employed by one company but working primarily on site at a second. Such arrangements are particularly popular among large companies that contract with outside information-technology or human-resources companies. Any employee in that situation could receive only a visa good for one year, as opposed to the more typical three years.

The change, should it take effect, would be particularly onerous for hundreds of thousands of Indian workers. Because of caps on permanent residence status for Indians, they are caught in a years long backlog and rely on H-1B visas to remain in the country legally in the meantime. Many of these people are employed by IT companies that place them with clients. Under the proposed rules, they would need to have their visas renewed each year, a process that would cost their employers thousands of dollars each time.

DHS will require that applicants have at least a bachelor’s degree, eliminating the possibility that some applicants enter the U.S. with years of relevant experience that could earlier have been deemed equivalent to a college education. The new rules also specify that the degree must be in a directly relevant field, meaning applicants for a job as a computer programmer likely couldn’t have a degree in economics or engineering.

The government has already cited some of these objections in seeking to reject H-1B visa applications, with differing amounts of success. The rejection rate for H-1B visas has risen under the Trump administration, from 6.1% in 2016 to 15.1% in 2019.

India and China account for the lion`s share of H-1B visas. As per US government data, India accounts for upwards of 70 per cent, most years. In a call with reporters, Acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said about one-third of the people who have applied for H-1B visas would be denied under the new rules.

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