The Donald Trump administration has announced a fresh set of restrictions on the H-1B nonimmigrant visa programme for protecting the integrity of American workers. The new H-1B visa rules are aimed at approving H-1B visa applications only for qualified beneficiaries and petitioners.
The plan, however, is a big blow to thousands of aspiring India IT professionals as US companies will find it harder to hire them under the H-1B visa programme. A PTI news report said the interim final rule has been announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday, just four weeks ahead of the US presidential election.
It will narrow the definition of “speciality occupation” as Congress intended by closing the overbroad definition that allowed companies to take advantage of the H-1B visa programme. Moreover, it will also require companies to make “real” offers to “real employees” by curtailing loopholes and prevent the displacement of American workers.
The new rules would also enhance the department’s ability to enforce compliance through worksite inspections and monitor compliance before, during and after an H-1B petition or request is approved.
Commenting on the move, industry body Nasscom said, “The changes announced in the H-1B visa program will restrict access to talent and will harm the American economy, endanger US jobs, put US interests at risk, slowing down R&D into solutions to the Covid crisis. It is important for the US market to be able to access skilled talent for its businesses, especially during the COVID recovery phase.”
“These regulations seem to be based on misinformation about the programme and run counter-productive to their very objective of saving the American economy and jobs,” it added.
Fresh blow to Indian IT professionals
The H-1B visa allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require some kind of theoretical or technical expertise. A large number of technology companies use the H-1B visa most to acquire thousands of employees from countries like India and China every year.
The increased restrictions under the new rules would curtail the hiring process and adversely affect a large number of Indian IT professionals.
It may be noted that a large number of Indians on an H-1B visa have already lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and have been forced to head back home.
The new rule which will be effective in 60 days or two months will be an additional blow to Indian IT professionals and others who are employed in the US under the H-1B visa programme.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said that the decision on making H-1B visa rules stricter is a result of the economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic. He said, “We have entered an era in which economic security is an integral part of homeland security. Put simply, economic security is homeland security. In response, we must do everything we can within the bounds of the law to make sure the American worker is put first.”
While the Donald Trump administration is focused on guaranteeing the safety of American workers first, there are chances that the H-1B visa program will be significantly curtailed as a result.
This, in turn, will be a blow to lakhs of Indian workers aspiring to work in the US under the H-1B visa programme. It is worth mentioning that Indian IT professionals and workers are one of the highest beneficiaries of the H-1B visa programme.