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US President calls for merit-based Immigration which may Benefit tech Professionals

March 2017, 02
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US President calls for merit-based Immigration
A merit-based system could benefit technology professionals from countries like India. In amongst the immigration turmoil right now in the United States Donald Trump has said he believes in an immigration reform that is real and positive if it works towards improving jobs and salaries for Americans.

US President Donald Trump commented on the merit-based immigration systems of Canada and Australia and in last night’s address to congress introduced the idea of a merit-based immigration system for the USA. He believes a move away from lower-skilled immigration will save money, boost wages and propel the financial status of families, including immigrant families in America.

Trump has promised to increase focus on the H1B and L-1 visa programmes that are used frequently by Indian technology companies. H1B is a non-immigrant visa for high qualified foreign workers often employed by American technology firms. These firms rely on the H1B visa to hire tens of thousands of skilled workers. The technology industry in America has recently been concerned about losing talented Indian workers through any immigration cuts including restrictions on the H1B visas.

Indian IT professionals make up the highest proportion of foreign workers moving to the US on H1B visas. They are also a sizable segment of other professions using the visa including engineers, doctors, health professionals, lawyers, educators, and scientists.

Currently, the H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa which covers foreign professionals to work and be employed in the USA for a period of three to six years. H1B applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree, equivalent, or over in their chosen occupation. Spouses of applicants and their children may qualify for an H-4 nonimmigration status.

The L-1 visa again is a non-immigration work permit which is valid for a shorter period of time for many countries. From three months for Iranian nationals to five years for nationals of India, Japan, and Germany. The granting of which is expected to be reciprocated by the home country of the national entering and working in the USA. A bachelor’s degree is not required for an L-1 visa

Holders of L-1 and H1B visa can currently apply for green card status without detriment to their existing visa. Holders of H1B visas would need an additional labor certification before they can apply for a green card. 

As the immigration system is under many reviews in the USA existing immigration programs and streams may well change quickly. 

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