Nasscom welcomes court blocking new H-1B rules


Indian software industry body Nasscom welcomed the US District Court for the Northern District of California blocking two Interim Final Rules (IFRs) on H-1B regulations that significantly hiked H-1B holders’ wages and restricted the visa program.

The Department of Labor IFR changed the manner in which it calculates prevailing wage rates and adjusted the prevailing wage percentiles for Levels I and IV upward.

The Department of Homeland Security IFR concurrently made a number of changes to the H-1B visa program, including revisions to the regulatory definitions of “specialty occupation” and the employer-employee relationship and reductions to the validity period for H-1B workers employed at third party job sites from three years to one year.

Nasscom said it had submitted comments “on behalf of thousands of our member companies, objecting to the IFRs on both procedural and substantive grounds.”

In a statement after the ruling, Nasscom said: “We viewed the rule as unjustified and had sought for rescinding the IFRs in its entirety, given the significant harm it would do to American businesses, American workers, and to the United States’ economy as a whole. It clearly was not supported by statute or procedure. By failing to permit public review and comment, DOL did not receive stakeholder input that would have pointed out the flaws in the new calculations for wage rate determinations, and the reliance interests affected by the sudden imposition of this IFR.”

It added: “Study after study have demonstrated that the H-1B program plays an essential role in helping US enterprises secure skill sets that they cannot find locally and that these high-skilled employees provide tremendous benefit to their employers and the US as a whole.”

The Nasscom statement pointed out that even during the peak of the unemployment spike this year created by the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment in the IT sector remained “extremely low” — 3 percent in January 2020 to 3.5 percent in September 2020.

We welcome the court decisions that clearly recognizes the importance of the high skill visa programs to the United States; and that the IFRs issued previously did not hold legal statute,” the statement said.

Nasscom believes this will help US businesses access talent critical to the economic recovery phase in the post-Covid world.”