Trump administration to propose major changes to H-1B visa rules
The Trump administration has said it is planning to "revise" the definition of employment and specialty occupations under the H-1B visas, a move which will have a detrimental impact on Indian IT companies and small and medium-sized contractual firms mostly owned by Indian-Americans. The technology companies depend on H-1B to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The H-1B visa, the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Wednesday that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019. They said that it will "propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation" in order to increase the focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.
USCIS will also "revise the definition" of employment and employer-employee relationship to "better protect" US workers and wages, the DHS said. DHS will propose additional requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders. It reiterated that it was proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorization.
Changes to H-1B visa, which is part of the Unified Fall Agenda of the Trump administration, will have a detrimental impact on the functioning of Indian IT companies in the US and also small, medium-sized-contractual IT companies, which are mostly owned by Indian-Americans.
The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa. The Department of Homeland Security said it was also finalizing its interim regulation governing petitions filed on behalf of alien workers subject to the annual numerical limitations applicable to the H-1B non-immigrant classification.
The DHS rules also preclude an individual from filing duplicate petitions on behalf of the same alien temporary worker. The rule also makes accommodations for petitioners to create a more efficient filing process for H-1B petitions subject to the annual numerical limitation.
Observing that the demand for H-1B visas has often exceeded the numerical limitation, DHS said it was proposing to establish an electronic registration programme for such applications. Through that, USCIS will more efficiently manage the intake process for these H-1B petitions, it said. The Trump administration is reviewing the H-1B visa policy that it thinks is being misused by companies to replace American workers.
Trump administration has said publicly that it wants to revoke work permits to H-4 visa holders, a significant majority of whom are Indian-Americans and women. The move will have a major impact on Indian women as they are the major beneficiary of the Obama-era rule.