US authorities have tightened the norms for hiring computer programmers, putting a squeeze on Indian IT companies over the issue of H-1B visas.
The Trump administration has issued a stern warning to American firms as they began applying for skilled-worker visas on Monday. Indian IT workers typically snag more than 50 percent of the H-1B visas that are up for grabs, with petitions usually outnumbering the quota available.
Here are ten things to know about H-1B visa and its new regulations:
- H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows employers based in the United States to employ foreign workers for three years initially, which later be extended up to six years. For such a visa, an employer must offer a job and apply for employee’s H-1B visa petition with the US Immigration Department.
- Every year, on April 1, US immigration authorities open a fresh cap for H-1B visa applications. Applicants can legally apply for an H-1B visa on the first weekday in April. The system of the allotting the H-1B Visa is based on a lottery.
- Applications for this year’s batch of visas opened on April 3, with quotas and allocations for the controversial program essentially unchanged.
- The US has an annual cap of 85,000 for H-1B visas, including 20,000 for foreign workers with US advanced degrees.
- The H-1B visa application fee, originally, is just $325. Another $500 was added as Prevention and Detection Fee and $1,500 per visa application as Employer Sponsorship fee for employers with 26 or more employees.
- In 2016, there were 236,000 applications for just 65,000 available visas.
- Although there is no allotment quota for any country, however, a total of 6,800 is usually set aside for Singapore and Chile citizens as part of the free trade agreement between them.
- Indian IT companies like HCL, TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, and L&T Infotech are among the major users of H-1B visas. Big US employers of H-1B include Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, Accenture, Syntel, Apple, etc.
- The changed visa norms will impact the Indian IT companies the worst, especially computer programmers as they are going to feel the heat first as merely obtaining a computer degree may not be enough to get an H-1B visa.
- Spouses of US immigrants on H-1B visas could lose their right to work. As per norms, H-1B visa holders can bring immediate spouse and children under 21 to the United States under the H-4 visa category as dependents. This move will affect thousands of Indians who are living there in the US on H-4 visa. Almost 72 percent of all the H1B visas issued by the US worldwide went to Indians. A group called Save Jobs USA filed a lawsuit, which is in a federal appeals court, the Department of Homeland Security’s did not have the authority to create a new employment visa category.
Above all, the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj assures there is no reason to worry about the curbs on H1B visas or the job security of Indian IT professionals working in the US for now as the Indian government is in talks with the US.