Trump’s latest order on H1-B visa based on misinformation, says Nasscom


President Donald Trump’s executive order on preventing federal agencies from using H-1B visa, did not strike well with the Indian IT industry body Nasscom. It said that the announcement appeared to be based on misinformation and misperceptions.

The new executive order, “Aligning Federal Contracting and Hiring Practices with the Interests of American Workers” signed on Monday recommends a review of federal contracting practices and the H-1B visa program in general rather than mandating an immediate change.

The order directs the heads of each federal department and agency to review the use of offshore services as well as temporary foreign labor (H-1Bs, L-1s) in the execution of contracts awarded in FY 2018 and 2019 and issue a report within 120 days to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Based on this, corrective actions may be taken. It also asks the Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security to “take action” within 45 days “to protect United States workers from any adverse effects on wages and working conditions caused by the employment of H-1B visa holders at job sites (including third-party job sites).”

“This underscores and sets a timeline for the agencies to finalize and publish some of the regulatory measures that have been discussed by the Administration and mentioned again in the June Proclamation. These may include the changes to the definitions of “specialty occupation”, “employer”, and “employer-employee relationship”,” said Nasscom.

“As the world opens up post the COVID-19 induced lockdowns, it is important for the U.S. to be able to access talent critical to the recovery phase. Measures that restrict access to talent will slow-down the recovery phase of U.S. economy, jobs, innovation and R&D,” it said in a statement.

The order comes at a time when there is a huge shortage of STEM skills in the US which are bridged by workers on non-immigrant visas like H-1B and L-1. The unemployment rate for computer occupations (those most common amongst H-1B visa holders) declined from 3% in Jan-2020 to 2.5% in May-2020, while the unemployment rate for all other occupations grew from 4.1% in Jan-2020 to 13.5% in May-2020. Further, in the 30-day period ending 13th May 2020, there were over 625,000 active job vacancy postings advertised online for jobs in common computer occupations, including those most common to H-1B visa holders, said Nasscom.