US seeks to stop H-1B extensions, may hit several Indian workers

If the proposal is passed by the US Congress, it has the potential of affecting thousands of Indian skilled professionals working in the US.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: January 3, 2018 6:40 am
H-1B visa, H1B visa, H1B visa Trump, Trump H1B visa, Donald Trump H1B visa The H-1B visa is typically issued for three to six years to employers to hire a foreign worker.

THE US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering new regulations that would prevent foreign workers from getting H-1B visa extensions while their green card applications are pending.

If the proposal is passed by the US Congress, it has the potential of affecting thousands of Indian skilled professionals working in the US.

The H-1B visa issue has been a source of concern for New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have expressed concern to their counterparts, including US President Donald Trump.

McClatchy’s bureau reported on Tuesday that the proposal, being drafted in memos shared between DHS department heads, is part of Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” initiative promised during his 2016 campaign.

“The administration is specifically looking at whether it can re-interpret the ‘may grant’ language of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act to stop making the extensions. The Act currently allows the administration to extend the H-1B visas for thousands of immigrants, predominantly Indian immigrants, beyond the allowed two-three year terms if a green card is pending,” reported the news outlet.

“The idea is to create a sort of ‘self- deportation’ of hundreds of thousands of Indian tech workers in the United States to open up those jobs for Americans,” a US source briefed by Homeland Security officials was quoted as saying.

While officials at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is under DHS, said they couldn’t discuss “any part of the pre-decisional processes”, Jonathan Withington, chief of media relations for USCIS, was quoted as saying that “the agency is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment-based visa programmes.”

The H-1B visa is typically issued for three to six years to employers to hire a foreign worker. But H-1B holders who have begun the green card process can often renew their work visas indefinitely.

The proposed changes would have a dramatic effect, particularly on Indian visa holders, since over half of all H-1B visas have been awarded to Indian nationals, according to the Pew Research Center. Estimates suggest that over 1 million H-1B visa holders are waiting for green cards, many of whom are from India and have been waiting for over a decade.

When contacted, Indian government sources told The Indian Express, “We have been monitoring all the reports about H-1B visa changes… It is one of our high-priority areas of engagement with our interlocutors in the US. We are working with the stakeholders in the US Congress as well as the US administration on this issue.”

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  1. Steven Hines
    Jan 3, 2018 at 11:51 pm
    The days of American companies importing common programmers from India are numbered. The H1B program was designed to attract people with highly specialized skills that were difficult to find here in the states. Companies abused it to import tens of thousands of common Indian programmers rather than train American workers. By in large those H1B Indians didn't bring any specialized skillset, so they should not be here. As a software architect I've led teams of Indian programmers for years across a plethora of projects. I know first hand that they bring no specialized skills and in fact, due to cultural differences and communication difficulty, they can be a detriment to a projects progress. I've made many Indian friends and find the Indian culture to be wonderful, but they are stealing economic opportunities from American citizens. Trump was elected to fix American immigration and a large part of that is the H1B program. You can lobby all you want, but Trump has a mandate.
    1. Virendra Sason
      Jan 3, 2018 at 4:50 pm
      '5 lacs Indians ( H1B visa ) holder to come back India from United States. it may cost India severe unemployment along with financial loss to the tune of 10 - 20 Billion Dollars yearly. Indian Govt. ( under the PM Modiji ) must must ready to talk with Trump administration. I am at loss why Our Media Houses are unnecessary wasting their energy for discussion for petty sum of 0.25 Billion Dollars aid to Pakistan that Thrump had only withheld to put pressure on Pakistan. Is it not case of Penny wise and Pound foolish? Pl comment positively.'
      1. Neeraj Shah
        Jan 3, 2018 at 8:22 pm
        Sir, i agree but this is a self created problem. Remember when TCS Infy were fined millions of $ for malpractises last year. These are all the repercussions of the mess we have created. It is their country they will do what they want. I agree media should be more responsible
      2. Samuel V.
        Jan 3, 2018 at 3:09 pm
        India should be absent about Jeru m voting in UN. If you want keep friendly countries or alley, you support some world issue, after gulf countries most NRI is living in USA, mostly Hindus. RSS and Hindu hardliners BJP Govt. should be minded these factors. do not act like Pakistan, lie and unfaithful, friendship should be true.