In sync with its “Buy American, Hire American” campaign slogan, the Trump administration has proposed to end H-1B visa extensions of foreign workers awaiting Green Cards. With about 70% of the visa holders being Indian IT professionals, the announcement has sparked fears in India that more than 500,000 Indian techies may be forced out of the US.
Granted for three years for specialized workers, the H-1B visa has a three-month extension provision. If the application for a permanent residence in the US is approved, the visa holders wait using extensions. The present US administration has been consistently attacking the H-1B visa structure in what it terms as an effort to prevent the misuse and abuse of this non-immigrant visa.
In February last year it was decided that the H-4 EAD would be rolled back. Introduced by the then US president Barack Obama, the regulation was meant to add to the foreign work force by granting work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders awaiting Green cards.
The recent proposal, if implemented, will hit the US companies hard since a bulk of their employees are from countries like India and China. Unlike Indian companies that go for project-based hiring system, the US companies face the risk of possible stalling of onsite projects if the workers awaiting Green Cards on extensions are made to leave. The shortage of technically skilled workforce in the US will further add to the woes of the domestic information technology (IT) firms.
“This would be a major catastrophic development as many people have been waiting in line for green cards for over a decade, have US citizen children, own a home,” observed Leon Fresco, former deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department in the Obama administration who now represent H-1B workers. With more than a million visa holders in the country expecting Green Cards and big companies likely to face skill shortage in future, the push back will be significant.
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