Home Government Tech Policy H-1B visa changes likely to hit outsourcing firms

H-1B visa changes likely to hit outsourcing firms

Outsourcing companies who hire lower-paid lower-level computer programmers appear to be targeted by new guidance on H-1B visas issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday.

The guidance says that computer programmers can no longer be presumed to be eligible for H-1B visas.

It will cover applications for H-1B visas that opened on Monday for the fiscal year 2018. The US issues about 85,000 H-1B visas every year.

After the election of Donald Trump as US president, there has been a great deal of speculation about changes to the H-1B visa regime.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa and allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in high-skilled occupations.

The new guidance will reserve H-1B visas for very high-skilled and higher-paid professionals, with low- and mid-level jobs presumably to go to American workers instead.

It means that firms which wish to obtain H-1B visas for programming positions will need to supply additional proof about the complexity of the task for which they need the H-1B workers.

In mid-March, there were hopes that the H-1B regime would not be touched, after White House press secretary Sean Spicer made only a general comment about the system when asked about possible changes.

“… 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,” Spicer said.

Among the groups most fearful of H-1B visa changes have been Indian outsourcing companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro and Satyam which are estimated to take up to 85% of the visas issued for IT-related jobs.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.