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USA Administration Considering a Proposal to Repatriate Around 500,000 Indian Technical Workers

January 2018, 03
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USA administration is considering a proposal to repatriate around 500,000 Indian technical workers and India can expect an addition to its skilled workforce if this proposal is carried through. The administration plans not to extend the HIB Visa of the persons waiting for permanent residency. The Homeland Security Department is considering implementations, of new regulations, which prevent extensions in H-1B visa as a part of the Hire an American initiative which was an election campaign promise.

Presently, overseas workers are permitted an extension of the H-1B visa valid for three-years and another extension for the same period. In case after the completion of six years, the overseas worker has a Permanent Residency application pending, there is an indefinite extension of the H-1B visa until the time for processing the application for the Green Card is completed. Owing to an enormous backlog of Green Card applications, many Indian and Chinese workers are required to spend several years waiting for its sanction. Presently they can remain in the US for the time taken for the processing of Green Card.

The present administration plans to end this concession. When an H-1B visa holder, submits an application for a Green Card, he/she needs to exit the USA, at the end of his six-years, till the processing is complete. The administration is justified and within the law for amending the rules, because of the fact that the aim of H-1B is addressing the shortage of skilled worker in the country. It is not meant to be a way to immigrate.

So far, several Indian and Chinese skilled workers particularly have adopted the H-1B route for becoming permanent residents and subsequently becoming citizens. They add an immense value to the US technological industry.  This visa category was looked favourably both by the technology industry as well as the past administrations. During the 2016 Presidential campaign, American technological workers, who felt that they were treated unfairly, by the entry of overseas workers, convinced Mr. Trump that there was no scarcity of American workers. The H-1B inflow was, in fact, a part of tactics of the technology industry to have low wages.

The previous administrations have changed the rules making it difficult for companies in the US to hire overseas workers. These included increasing the minimum salaries and processing fees, but the demand for H-1B visa continued to increase. The US industry is of the opinion that the country does not produce sufficient graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, who have the desired skill set.

The Proposed Changes to the present H-1B visa rules will have a great impact on India. Nearly 50 percent of the 85,000 such visas presently issued annually are taken up by professionals from India. As per an estimate 255,000 Indians received with H-1B visas in the past six years. Thousands of professionals, during the past decade, wait for the processing of Green Card.

This is one of the measures adopted by the US administration to halt the inflow of foreign workers to keep US jobs exclusively for Americans. It had earlier announced its plans to decrease the H-4 EAD which was introduced in the past and allowed spouses of H-1B visa holders for pursuing some work in the US after meeting certain conditions.

The visa extension rollback may not be implemented as there are influential arguments against its implementation. The young, overseas-born professionals benefit the tax system in the US and enhance the economy. Technological experts have stated that if they are kept out, their home countries will be benefitted in a big way and they will help to meet the challenges faced by their home countries.

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