Setback to Indian techies as Trump unveils new rules to limit H-1B visas amid job losses

The Donald Trump administration on Tuesday announced to cut back H-1B visas for foreign skilled workers and tightened wage-based entry barriers to protect American workers. As per the administration, more than 500,000 Americans have lost their jobs because of “H-1B non-immigrants”.

While the Department of Labor’s new wage rules for skilled immigration visa takes effect Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security’s H-1B revisions will hit home in 60 days.

India and China account for the majority of the share of H-IB visas so they’re likely to be the worst-hit countries. India accounts for upwards of 70%, most years, as per the US government data.

What will change under the new rule?

People would be not be given H-1B visas under the new rules.

Acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said about one-third of the people who have applied for H-1B visas would be denied under the new rules.

The DOL rule will raise the four salary tiers for employees on H-1Bs and other professional visas, which currently begin at the 17th percentiles for each industry, to the 45th percentile.

“Under the existing wage levels, artificially low prevailing wages provide an opportunity for employers to hire and retain foreign workers at wages well below what their US counterparts – meaning US workers in the same labor market, performing similar jobs, and possessing similar levels of education, experience, and responsibility – make, creating an incentive – entirely at odds with the statutory scheme – to prefer foreign workers to US workers, and causing downward pressure on the wages of the domestic workforce,” reads an excerpt from the DoL interim final rule.

The Department is also tightening the screws on the definition of “specialty occupation” to make it align with what it calls the “verbatim” descrion.

In parallel, DHS will narrow the definition of “specialty occupation”, require companies to make “real” offers to “real employees,” and turbocharge its own ability to ensure compliance “before, during, and after an H1-B petition is approved”.

With Trump laid up with COVID-19, his poll numbers tanking and less than 30 days to go before the US election, the timing of the H-1B visa hammering is business as usual for foreign workers.

“It would have been a surprise if this hadn’t happened,” said an H-1B worker on-site at JP Morgan in New York City. The salary requirement will be a “gamechanger” in favour of the Trump administration, the worker said.

Many H-1B workers expressed a version of the same sentiment. They’ve seen this movie before. It’s Trump’s all-base, all the time anthem to fire up his most vocal supporters, they said.

The latest blow comes as the ducks line up across multiple departments that coordinate and monitor the crisscrossing elements of foreign worker visas: US Department of Labor (DoL, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS.

“When seeking to employ an H-1B, H-1B1, or E-3 visa, US employers must attest that they will pay non-immigrant workers, during the period of authorized employment, the higher of the prevailing wage or the actual wage paid to other employees with similar experience and qualifications,” US Department of Labor announced.

The gaslighting of the “low costa H-1B paycheque is a well-worn anthem and has become louder in the Trump years. The word “undercut” was used multiple times on Tuesday in a round-robin of smoothly co-ordinated press-releases and telephonic briefings across DoL and DHS.

“Data shows that the more than a half-million H-1B non-immigrants in the United States have been used to displace US workers,” read a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.

(With IANS inputs

Setback to Indian techies as Trump unveils new rules to limit H-1B visas amid job losses