Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies

H-18 visa programme faces onslaught of Congressional bills
Posted:Mar 10, 2017
increase Font size decrease Font size
With the Trump administration seriously mulling H-1B visa reforms, at least half a dozen bills have been tabled in the US House of Representatives and the Senate, contending that the programme that is popular among Indian IT firms eats into American jobs.
Authors of all these bills from both the Republican and the Democratic parties believe that H-1B work visas, which are highly popular among Indian techies and Indian IT companies, tend to replace American workers.
Even though this argument is disputed by research scholars, economists and Silicon Valley executives, these legislations are based on the premise that Indian techies are eating into American jobs.
In less than a week of Trump being sworn in as the 45th US President, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, and Assistant Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin, introduced the "H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act" to prioritise American workers and restore fairness in visa programmes for skilled workers.
Grassley is Chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.
Among other things, the H1-B reform bill proposes to eliminate the lottery system and give foreign students educated in the US priority on visas.
The bill would prohibit companies with more than 50 employees, of which at least half are H-1B or L-1 holders, from hiring additional H-1B employees.
It also explicitly prohibits the replacement of American workers by H-1B or L-1 visa holders. The bill among other things would also crackdown on outsourcing companies that import large numbers of H-1B and L-1 workers for temporary training purposes only to send the workers back to their home countries to do the same job.
Specifically, it would prohibit companies with more than 50 employees of which at least half are H-1B or L-1 holders, from hiring additional H-1B employees, a statement said.
It explicitly prohibits the replacement of American workers by H-1B or L-1 visa holders. These provisions address the types of abuses that have been well-documented in recent press reports.
Democrat Zoe Lofgren -- who represents a Congressional district in California that includes Silicon Valley -- introduced 'The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017'.
As soon as the bill, which proposes a skill and wage- based system for allocation of H-1B visas and seeks to more than double the minimum wage for an H-1B visa holder to USD 130,000, was introduced, stocks of major Indian information technology went down and rattled the USD 150-billion outsourcing industry.
"It's near-impossible to design an immigration system that selects only the highest-paid and still protects the inventiveness and meritocracy that has made Silicon Valley the centre of the tech world," said Ridhika Batra, US-head of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries.
"Like all forms of protectionism, these measures by (the) US government would only lower standards and reduce productivity, eventually causing the US to lose the edge -- and the income -- that comes with being the undisputed champion of innovation," she said.
The bill among other things proposes setting aside 20 per cent of the annual allocation of H-1B visas for small and start-up employers with 50 or fewer employees.
Utah Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, and his party colleague in the Senate Senator Mike Lee, have introduced identical bills in the House and the Senate -- Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017 -- which proposes to eliminate the per-country immigration caps with a first-come-first-served system.
On February 2, Senator Sherrod Brown joined by Joe Donnelly and Kirsten Gillibrand, introduced the "End Outsourcing Act," which aims to ensure that federal contracts are awarded to companies who hire American workers.
Two Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue unveiled the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act on February 7, which proposes to lower overall immigration to 637,960 in its first year and to 539,958 by its tenth year -- a 50 per cent reduction from the 1,051,031 immigrants who arrived in 2015.
Cotton and Perdue met Trump at the White House on Tuesday, after which they said that H-1B and employment-based Green Card is likely to be reformed to attract the best and the brightest from across the world.
The White House yesterday said the Trump Administration has a natural desire to have a comprehensive look at the H-1B, spousal visa and students visas.
Last week, Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna joined a bipartisan group of three other lawmakers to table a legislation to reform the current H-1B and L1 work visas and end its abuse by foreign companies.
The bill, if passed by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by the US President, would require employers to make a good faith effort to recruit and hire American workers before bringing in foreign workers.
It also prohibits employers from replacing American workers with H-1B and L-1 workers or giving preference to H-1B visa holders when they are filling open positions. It will modify existing H-1B wage requirements, and establishes wage requirements for L-1 workers.
The bill proposes to prohibit employers from outsourcing H-1B and L-1 visa holders to other sites unless the employer obtains a waiver which is available only in limited circumstances when the rights of American workers are protected.
Congressional experts note that it might not be easy to pass a bill on H-1B visas unless there is a consensus or broader agreement on comprehensive immigration reform.
Batra said it is important to deal carefully the underlying shortage of STEM-skilled workers.
According to a latest Brookings study by 2020, demand for skilled technologists will exceed the number of qualified applicants by 1 million, leaving USA vulnerable in key areas such as technological innovation, economic development and cybersecurity.
"Moving the allocation decision from an arbitrary process to a market-clearing auction should settle the debate over our economy's demand for skilled immigrant labour, and an incremental success in our highly controversial immigration debate might help break the immigration reform impasse in other areas, as well," Batra said. 
The Pioneer, March 10, 2017
increase Font size decrease Font size

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
spotlight image Sergio Arispe Barrientos, Ambassador of  Bolivia to India is, at 37, the youngest head of mission in New Delhi. Only the second envoy from his country to India, Barrientos, who presented his credentials to the Indian President last month, feels he has arrived at a propitious time, when India’s focus is on so
On February 15, 2017 Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) successfully launched the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. 12 minutes later, writes Anil Bhat
While most Indians were observing recent domestic political developments; with surprise defeats for the ruling BJP in its pocket boroughs and a likelihood of the opposition uniting against the Party for the 2019 national elections, writes Tridivesh Singh Maini
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday talked over telephone and pledged to deepen bilateral ties and promote mutual trust, writes Gaurav Sharma 
Famous for its pursuit of Gross National Happiness, Bhutan has a new cause for joy: In recognition of its Gross National Income (GNI) growth and social development, the kingdom is poised to graduate from the UN category of the world's poorest known as the Least Developed Countries (LDC), writes Arul Louis
With a dire warning about the looming future of a waterless world, Indian spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev made a plea for mobilising humanity to save the rivers of India and the world before it is too late, writes Arul Louis

While India has regained its position as the world’s fastest growing large economy – with the uptick in GDP expansion at 6.7% in Q3 of 2017-18 – sustaining it critically depend...


A recent novel "Radius 200" by author Veena Nagpal has two facts at the centre of the fictional narrative that she weaves. "Impending water scarcity and the very real danger of an Sino-Indian conflict over this precious resource,...


What is history? How does a land become a homeland? How are cultural identities formed? The Making of Early Kashmir explores these questions in relation to the birth of Kashmir and the discursive and material practices that shaped it up to the ...


A group of teenagers in a Karachi high school puts on a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible— and one goes missing. The incident sets off ripples through their already fraught education in lust and witches, and over the years ...


Title: Do We Not Bleed?: Reflections of a 21-st Century Pakistani; Author: Mehr Tarar; Publisher: Aleph Book Company; Pages: 240; Price: Rs 599


From antiquity, the Muslim faith has been plagued by the portrayal of Muslim men regularly misusing this perceived “right” to divorce their wives instantly by simply uttering “talaq” thrice.