Temporary relief as US relooks H-1B visa rules

The United States may take longer than expected earlier to tighten laws for overseas professionals in the country, White House press secretary Sean Spicer has indicated, offering hope to Indian companies that they may be able to benefit from the existing H-1B visa policy for their workers this year.

Spicer said that the Donald Trump administration is having a very “comprehensive” look at the visa policy, without mentioning a specific time frame.

This came after India’s foreign and commerce secretaries discussed the issue during their trips to Washington, DC.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised India’s concerns in this regard when he met US Congressmen in Delhi. Officials and experts, however, said they did not rule out some changes in US visa rules.

“The President’s actions that he’s taken in terms of his executive order and another revamping of immigration policy have focused on our border security, keeping our country safe, our people safe,” Spencer said.

“And then, obviously, whether it’s H-1B visas or the other one – spousal visas – other areas of student visas, I think there is a natural desire to have a full look at – a comprehensive look at that.”

The new immigration draft law had proposed a 40% increase in the minimum wage of foreign workers on H-1B visas to $100,000 a year to match the current wage rate in the US.

Also Read: Applications for H1-B visas to be accepted from April 3 in 2018

According to the policy draft, it “will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the US, instead of bringing cheaper workers from overseas”.

“This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favour of the H-1B programme,” it says.

The immigration reform bill, ‘Protect and Grow American Jobs Act’, is aimed at ensuring that USbased companies consider American workers before hiring foreign workers who are currently employed at lower wages.

The bill, sponsored by California Republican Representative Darrell Issa, is now under review of the American House of Representatives.

The new season for applying for the H-1B visa starts on April 1 and the visas will be granted from October 1, according to people familiar with the matter.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) advises that “it is important to plan in advance if you will be filing for an H-1B visa that is subject to the annual H-1B numerical cap”.

“The visa aspirants are well aware of the USCIS advice. So, most likely they will plan in advance and apply for the H-1B visa before the deadline.

Most likely, the USCIS might continue with the current visa rules for another year,” said an Indian American, who did not wish to be identified.

Meanwhile, Spicer’s statement has irked some as they found it contradictory to President Trump’s campaign promise. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ US chapter accused Trump of continuing to cost Americans jobs.

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