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Trump administration withdraws two proposals, could pass them quicker to tighten H-1B norms

According to immigration attorneys, the administration is looking at using a special waiver of a review step to speed up the roll out. This means that the process would be pushed forward instead of going for the review period.

October 03, 2020 / 10:50 PM IST
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The Trump administration reportedly withdrew two proposed changes that aimed at tightening H-1B visa rules and increasing the wages of highly skilled workers coming in from abroad, including those from India.

The regulations proposed were the restructuring of wage levels of the highly-skilled workforce, including those under the H-1B, by the Department of Labor (DOL) and 'Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa' by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Both were withdrawn on September 30.

The proposed regulations were aimed at making it harder for companies to hire H-1B workers for highly skilled jobs, by imposing more restrictions to their entry and increasing their wages.

The regulations were at the interim final stage and were submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If approved, the rules would come into effect immediately and would have a significant impact on Indians, Silicon Valley tech firms and Indian information technology firms, which employ a significant H-1B workforce.

However this might not be the good news as it seems to be. For immigration experts have pointed out that it could be the exact opposite.

Greg Siskind, an immigration attorney, said that the DHS is looking at using a special waiver of a review step to speed up the roll out.

This means that rather than withdrawal, the rules could come out faster, right before the US elections on November 3. The OMB had 90 days to review the regulations.

Moneycontrol had earlier reported that the rules were withdrawn as reported by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and this withdrawal would benefit Indians.

There were about 1.3 lakh Indian H-1B workers in the US at the end of FY19. Indians are one of the largest beneficiaries of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued every year.

Apart from H-1B visa holders, the department of labor included H-1B1 and E-3 work visas for changing the wage levels. H-1B1 is a specialty occupation visa allocated to those residing in Chile and Singapore for a year. E-3 is a temporary specialty occupation for Australian nationals.

Proposed changes

There was not much detail on what these proposed changes were. However, immigration experts shared that the aim was to make the visa application and acceptance more stringent.

The new rules proposed by the DHS aimed to revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect American workers and wages, thereby making it harder to qualify for an H-1B.

Increasing the wage levels proposed by the DOL would force companies to look for talent internally rather than recruit a foreign national, immigration experts pointed out.

Industry watchers pointed out that it would increase localisation, which increased since 2017 when the Trump administration came in. Indian IT firms' localisation stands at over 60 percent now in the US. Infosys has 13,000 US hires and TCS has 20,000.
Swathi Moorthy
first published: Oct 2, 2020 05:36 pm

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