Thursday, 25 June 2020 11:25

US puts restrictions on H-1B visas, some other categories

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US puts restrictions on H-1B visas, some other categories Pixabay

The US has suspended the issue of green cards and new H-1B visas in a move that has been slammed by the IT industry, a sector that depends on H-1B holders to carry out a sizeable amount of work.

The other suspended work visa is the H-4, which is used by the spouses of some people on H-1B visas, the H-2B for low-skilled workers, some J visas for cultural and education workers and the L-1 visa that allows intra-company transfers.

US President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Monday listing these changes. The logic being put forward for the order is that it will ensure Americans can be first to access new job opportunities in the wake of the pandemic that has caused massive job losses. The order is projected to free up to 525,000 jobs.

The order will not prevent existing H-1B visa holders from re-entering the US in the event that they are out of the country.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook criticised the order. In a tweet, he said: "Like Apple, this nation of immigrants has always found strength in our diversity, and hope in the enduring promise of the American Dream. There is no new prosperity without both. Deeply disappointed by this proclamation."

Microsoft president Brad Smith expressed his disappointment as well. In a tweet, he said: "Now is not the time to cut our nation off from the world’s talent or create uncertainty and anxiety. Immigrants play a vital role at our company and support our country’s critical infrastructure. They are contributing to this country at a time when we need them most."

Trump came to office with promises to reform the H-1B visa process and introduce a number of changes that would skew the system to favour Americans and not foreigners as has been the case all these years.

In January last year, the US said it had finally decided on the changes to be made for granting H-1B visas.

Silicon Valley firms have long argued for an increase in the annual quota of H-1B visas, saying otherwise they cannot attract the best foreign talent.

Since Trump was elected, the US has been clamping down on H-1B visas.

In October 2017, the government issued new guidelines making it tougher for existing H-1B holders to renew their visas, specifying that they would have to go through the same process for renewal as they did to first obtain the visa.

The number of applicants for H-1B visas fell in 2017 for the first time in four years. In April 2017, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services received 199,000 applications, compared to 236,000 received in 2016.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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