US To Redefine Its H-1B Visa Programme Impacting Indian Companies, Professional

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New Delhi: The US government has reiterated its plans to redefine “speciality occupation” for skilled foreign workers who US companies seek to hire under the non-immigrant H-1B visa programme that has been immensely popular with Indian IT companies and professionals.

The department of homeland security (DHS), which oversee the agency that runs the programme, has also expressed the intention to implement other measures that the Trump administration has been considering to ensure, as the US president Donald Trump has said, Americans have the first right to American jobs.

Indian companies and IT professionals have been major beneficiaries of the programme cornering more than 70% of the 65,000 visas that the US grants to foreigners hired abroad every year and an additional 20,000 to foreign students passing out of US colleges and universities with advanced degrees.

The DHS proposes “to revise the definition of specialty occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals” via the H-1B programme, the agency said in the Fall 2018 Unified Agenda, a twice-yearly summary and plans of the federal government, published Wednesday.

It also proposes to “revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect US workers and wages. In addition, DHS will propose additional requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders”.

The purpose of these changes, it added, was to “ensure that H-1B visas are awarded only to individuals who will be working in a job which meets the statutory definition of specialty occupation. In addition, these changes are intended to ensure that the H-1B program supplements the US workforce and strengthens US worker protections”.

Among other proposals, and reiterated, in the Unified Agenda, was the elimination of work authorization for spouses of H-1B holders who are waiting for their Green Card (permanent residency, which is a step away from citizenship), a programme that also mainly benefits Indian workers.

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