There is a lot of anxiety among large tech companies in the wake of America's political climate change. The most sought after US work visa program- the H-1B Program – widely used by the technology industry could undergo reform under the Trump Administration. President elect Trump's proposed US Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions has a hard-line stand on immigration, particularly the H-1B program, and has long been opposed to the H-1B visa as they deny jobs to US workers. Sessions introduced legislation (the American Jobs First Act, S.2394), aiming to slash down the H-1B visas available to companies. Large outsourcing companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro that routinely provide foreign contractors to US companies would be the hardest hit.
The H-1B reform bill introduced by Sessions last year includes some key changes to the H-1B Program such as:
- Employer must offer an annual wage to the H-1B worker that is the greater of the annual wage paid to the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident employee who did identical or similar work during the previous 2 years, or $110,000, (whichever is higher)
- The employer shall attest in the H-1B application that during the previous two-year period there has not been an employee-initiated strike or an employer-initiated lockout, and that no employee in the same or substantially similar occupational classification has been displaced, terminated without cause, or otherwise involuntarily separated without cause.
- No nonimmigrant foreign student present in the United States may be provided U.S. employment authorization under the optional practical training program (or any successor program) without an express Act of Congress authorizing such a program.
- End the Visa Lottery that randomly issues 55,000 green cards per year to foreign citizens without consideration of skills, educational attainment, or the national interest.
- A nonimmigrant with an undergraduate degree or a combination of undergraduate and master's degrees (or the foreign equivalents) must have at least 10 years of relevant post-degree experience for program eligibility.
The H-1B visa is reserved for specialty occupations that require a US bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) at the very least. Currently, there are 65,000 visas for workers with a bachelor's degree and another 20,000 visas for graduate student workers each year. President elect Trump, while criticizing the H-B program, has also at other times, expressed a favorable view stating that H-1B is a good mechanism to bring foreign talent to the US. Given the unclarity of Trump's take on the H-1B program, whether the Program will see any dramatic reform under his administration is anybody's guess.
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