US President Donald Trump temporarily suspended the H1B visa and other temporary work permits till 31st December. He believed that the circumstances are extraordinary and the most sought H1B work visa for skilled workers proposed a threat to the employed American workers. The COVID-19 crises have spiked the rate of unemployment in the United States of America. The immigrants preferred the H1B visa as it is a non-immigrant visa of dual intent, which means that they are eligible for a permanent residency by applying for a green card. The H1B visa is also used by US companies to employ foreign workers in specialized fields. This visa benefits both the employer and the employee. The employee is paid more than what its native country could offer and the employer pays less compared to hiring the local workforce.
What is the H1B visa?
The H1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101 that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.
Who are most affected by this decision?
Indian nationals receive nearly 70% of the 85,000 H1B visas issued each year. The restrictions will apply only to new work visas and not to existing holders who are in the United States currently. The processing of all new H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visa categories stand suspended till the year end. The ban is effective immediately. Those who do not have a valid non-immigrant visa and are outside of the US, will not be allowed to enter the country until December 31, although the visa holders who are already present in the USA will not be impacted by this decision.
Indian IT companies are amongst the ones who benefit the most from the US H-1B visa regime. As of April 1, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received about 2.5 lakh H-1B work visa applications. Indians had applied for as many as 1.84 lakh or 67 % of the total H-1B work visas for the current financial year ending March 2021. The allotment H1-B visa was decided through a lottery system. The Trump administration has made drastic changes in these visa norms. The changed norms will how favour highly-skilled workers who are paid the highest wages by their respective companies.
Sundar Pichai CEO of Google and Alphabet showed his disappointment through twitter by showing his support to the immigrants. Many people from the tech industry blasted this decision of Donald Trump and stated that it would delay the process of revival of the US economy.
Many experts believe that this move could help Indians, as highly-skilled individuals are in high demand in the science and technology sectors in India. Kunal Bahl also shared how his temporary suspension on the H1B visa held him to cofound Snapdeal. Foreign nationals outside the US, who were to begin work on H1B visas as well as their spouses and children who do not hold a valid stamped visa yet, will have to wait longer until the ban expires. The majority of the allotment of the visa was done to Indians, thus it is a major setback.