American loss is Canada’s gain

TIMES OF INDIA – Ever since Donald Trump became the United States president, talks of restricted H1B visa and tougher immigration laws are rife in the information technology industry. Expecting fewer Indians to get this work permit for foreign specialists, the companies are downsizing, throwing American-job-seeking professionals into confusion.

The H-1B visa was suspended in April for the US to handle the huge rush of new petitions. Recently, the country opened up some categories of the H-1B visa for fast processing but with American president Donald Trump's challenging applications more often than at any point during the Obama era, the programme was shut temporarily. The sought-after work permit has thousands of top-notch professionals vying for 65,000 H1B visas each year. Valid for three years and extendable for another three, it is the most common route for highly skilled foreigners to find work in the US.

Point system a big hope

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows the US companies to employ foreign skilled workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. As mandated by the Congress, every year US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) can issue a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas and 20,000 to those who have earned higher education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects from an American university.

"Ever since the Trump era began, there has been slight decrease in the number of applications for H-1B visa. But the US government has prepared a blueprint for implementing a point system for visa like they have in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. If this happens, then it'll be great news for highly skilled professionals," said Kuldeep Singh, a Chandigarh-based immigration attorney.

America-first policy

Jeff DeCicco, chief executive officer (CEO) of CanAm Investor services said: "President Trump signed an executive order that called for a review of the H-1B visa programme because of his desire to ensure that skilled American workers are given preference over foreign professionals." He adds: "The annual cap for this visa has not been reduced. However, it seems that the USCIS has stepped up its review of the applications under H-1B visa really and my understanding is that the immigration service has issued RFEs (requests for evidence) against H-1B visa applications at a much greater rate than last few years.

DeCicco said: "It has also led to at least some prospective and current Indian H-1B visa applicants to rethink about coming to the US and staying back, given the scrutiny under Trump's administration. The big Indian IT consulting and outsourcing firms are getting caught up in the crosshairs. If this trend continues, one could see a more pronounced decline in the demand for H-B visa among Indian nationals."

Spouses on the line

In another turn of events, the Trump administration is considering revoking an Obama-era rule that extends work authorisation to the spouses of the H1B visa holders, a move that could affect thousands of Indian workers and their families. Since 2015, the spouses of H1B or high-skilled-visa holders waiting for green cards have become eligible to work in the US on H-4 dependent visas, under a rule introduced by the previous Obama administration. In 2016, more than 41,000 of H4 visa holders were issued work authorisation. This year till June, more than 36,000 H4 visa holders were issued work authorisation.

"DHS (department of homeland security) proposes to remove from its regulations certain H4 spouses of H1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation," the DHS stated in its latest regulation.

Multiple employers likely

Foreign workers in the US on a H1B work visa, the most sought after among Indian IT professionals, may work for more than one company, the American immigration agency has said.

"In general, the H1B workers may work for more than one employer but must have approved I-129 for each," the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency which receives and determines the successful applications for H1B visas, tweeted. "New employers must submit an I-129 petition before they may begin working," the USCIS said.

What is H1B

A non-immigrant visa that allows the US companies to employ foreign skilled workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise

Validity

3 years, extendable for another three

Sought-after permit

65,000 | H-1B visas that US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) can issue every year, As mandated by the Congress

20,000 | Maximum H1B visas allowed to those who have earned higher education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects from an American university

 

 

 

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