Tightened US H-1B visa norms in line with Trump’s ‘America first’ slogan

New announcements by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suggest that entry level computer programmers will find it very difficult to secure jobs in the US on H-1B (specialty occupation) visa.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Published: April 4, 2017 5:08 pm
h1b visa, h1 b visa discussion, h1 b visa issue, india visa, india it visa, it visa, h1 b visa reforms, us h1 b visa, us it sector, india news In the run up to his election, US President Donald Trump promised stricter norms for H-1B visa program. (File photo)

New announcements by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suggest that entry level computer programmers will find it very difficult to secure jobs in the US on H-1B (specialty occupation) visa. Though the move will impact thousands of people aspiring to work in the US and many technology companies, it doesn’t seem unfair.

USCIS makes it clear that employers are not supposed to abuse the H-1B visa program and only hire employees from another country who specialise in some field and when there is shortage of similar talent at home.

It is common for US companies to recruit talent in entry-level positions from abroad including Indian colleges and universities offering them attractive pay packages which are cost-effective in comparison to local US recruits.

Meanwhile, just like any other government, the US administration is fair on its stand to keep jobs for Americans. US President Donald Trump promised strict immigration norms and vowed to make H-1B and L-1 visa program more stringent to keep more jobs for American workers. So, the move was coming. Trump and his government are responsible for the American workforce and thus the move doesn’t seem unfair.

The USCIS has clarified that the ban is only for entry level positions and specialists will be considered. So, the applicants who have become ineligible can always apply after a few years for jobs in the US when they gain specialised skills.

Indeed, the impact will be felt on the companies and their expenses will shoot up. The policy memorandum issued by the US government highlights that computer programmers as a profession are still eligible for H-1B visas.

The policy clarification memo said that entry-level jobs do not qualify for H-1B visa consideration. The H-1B visa requires an applicant to apply in a specialised position. More local recruits at entry-level goes according to Trump’s job-creation and job assurance plans. Since entry-level doesn’t qualify as specialised, H-1B applicants lose eligibility under the announced norms.

The USCIS announced the ‘deter and detect’ norms to curb ‘abuse’ of H-1B provisions. The Congressional mandate for the USCIS is for issuing 85,000 H-1B visas. 65,000 of the H-1B visas are for general category and the rest are for applicants applying for academic pursuit in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

H-1B visas are issued by the US government as a non-immigrant visa. It allows American employers to recruit foreign talent for technology or theoretical expertise. IT and software companies in the US use the H-1B program to hire a large amount of foreign talent and many companies are structured in ways that they are H-1B dependent.

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