WASHINGTON: The Trump administration announced new restrictions on the H-1B non-immigrant visa program that it said are aimed at protecting American workers, restoring integrity, and ensuring better approval of H-1B petitions for recipients and eligible petitions, a move likely to affect thousands of Indian IT professionals.
The interim final rule announced by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday, less than four weeks before the US presidential election, will limit the definition of "professional profession," as Congress intends to close the flexible definition that allowed companies to manipulate the system.
It will also require companies to make "real" offers to "real employees" by filling in the gaps and preventing the displacement of American workers. Finally, the new rules will improve management's ability to enforce compliance through on-site inspections and compliance monitoring before, during, and after the approval of the H1-B petition.
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialized occupations that require the theoretical or technical experience.
The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
This decision by the Trump administration is likely to have a negative impact on thousands of Indian IT professionals. In fact, a large number of Indians holding H-1B visas lost their jobs and returned home during the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the US economy hard.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the temporary final rule to be published in the Federal Register will take effect within 60 days.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS is waiving the regular notice and suspension period to immediately ensure that hiring H-1B workers will not exacerbate the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and adversely affect wages and working conditions. She said American workers had a similar job.
The pandemic’s economic impact is a "clear and compelling fact" that justifies the good reason for issuing this final interim rule.
"We have entered an era where economic security is an integral part of national security. Simply put, economic security is home security. In response, we must do everything we can within the law to ensure that keep the American factor at the forefront. "
US Secretary of Labour Eugene Scalia said the changes will boost foreign worker programs and ensure opportunities for American workers in stable, good-paying jobs.
"The US Department of Labor is working to strengthen wage protection, address violations in these visa programs, and ensure that American workers are not undermined by cheap foreign labor," he said.
In a conference call with reporters, Deputy Labour Secretary Patrick Pizzella said these changes were long overdue and have become necessary in light of current conditions in the US job market.
"We are fulfilling the president's promise to protect Americans from those who seek to exploit the system for their gain," he said, adding that al-Qaeda "will ensure that Americans rank first in American jobs as we continue our recovery.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the intention of the H-1B program was to allow employers to fill gaps in their workforce and remain competitive in the global economy; however, it has now expanded further, often to the detriment of the US workers.
Data indicates that more than half a million H-1B immigrants in the United States have been used to displace American workers, resulting in lower wages in various industries in the American labor market and stagnant wages in some occupations. The Department of Homeland Security said.
"This is part of a larger Trump administration goal, in coordination with the Department of Labor, to protect American workers," it said.
The Labor Department said prevailing wage rates in these programs play a key role in protecting American workers from the unfair competition posed by the entry of low-cost foreign workers into the American labor market.
It said it is essential that the methodology used by the ministry to calculate prevailing wage rates accurately reflect what American workers doing the same types of jobs with similar qualifications to ensure that employers cannot employ foreign workers instead of workers Americans.
It said the Interim Final rule would improve the accuracy of current wages paid to foreign workers by aligning it with wages paid to similar employed US workers.
It added that this would ensure that the ministry more effectively protects the employment opportunities and wages of American workers by removing the economic incentive to employ foreign workers permanently or temporarily in the United States instead of American workers.
Trump, a Republican, is seeking another term in the White House. Former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democratic Party will face him in the presidential election on November 3.
In June, the Trump administration suspended H-1B visas along with other types of foreign work visas until the end of 2020 to protect American workers.
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