iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
Trump administration has been keen on tightening the regulations on H1B visas from the day President took to office.
According to a media report on Friday, the US is working to temporarily ban the issuance of some work-based visas like H-1B, popular among highly-skilled Indian IT professionals, as well as student visas and work authorization that accompanies them, amid the high level of unemployment due to the coronavirus.
While Indian IT service companies have been adaptive to the idea and have been hiring more local talents, American tech firms like Apple and Google might face the brunt due to the new ban.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed suspension could extend into the government’s new fiscal year beginning October 1, 2020, which is when the validity of the new visas begins.
The Journal quoted unnamed administration sources who said that visa holders already in the US are unlikely to be impacted by this.
Indians have been the largest beneficiaries of H-1B visas, receiving about two-thirds of the 85,000 new visas issued each year.
The share of Indian companies among the top ten visa recipients has dropped from 51% to 24% from 2016-2019 according to USCIS data.
“It is important for the U.S. to access talent critical to the recovery phase. US enterprises need access to essential technology workers who are keeping critical infrastructure operating in the U.S,” National Association of Software and Services Cos, the lobby group representing India’s $ 191 billion technology industry said in a statement.
More than 33 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last two months due to the coronavirus pandemic that has brought the US economy to a standstill.
The monthly jobs report on Friday said that the unemployment rate in the US for April rose to 14.7 percent.
Given the high level of unemployment and joblessness, according to the daily, senior administration officials are operating on the assumption that the public, during the pandemic, will be willing to accept new limits on immigration.
“Though the scope of the order hasn’t yet been decided, administration officials said it could range from suspensions of entire visa categories to the creation of incentives to hire Americans in industries hardest-hit by layoffs,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Immigration lawyer Chothani says Indian companies will also be hit if there is a ban on the work permits for high tech workers.
It would have a devastating impact on many Indian IT companies if President Trump were to suspend the H-1B and L-1 programs entirely and disallow new visas or extensions and/or revoke existing visas.” said Chothani.
Earlier this week, the Information and Technology Industry Council (ITI) wrote to Trump that as per guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), information technology professionals are “essential to continued critical infrastructure viability” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will be negative consequences and likely unavoidable unintended consequences should the administration restrict or disrupt the ability of American employers to hire technology professionals, including nonimmigrant visa holders. We respectfully ask that you not restrict the ability to employ H-1B, L-1, F-1, and H-4 nonimmigrants where they are needed in the U.S. economy,” it said.
High-tech skills are essential to start the recovery process. This ban might indirectly affect those same Americans who the administration is trying to protect.