Immigration Issues

United States to put a restriction on H1B and other preferential visa policies

The President of the United States announced that he will be signing an executive order to introduce restrictions on the H1-B, L-1 and other preferential visa systems for speciality work.

United States to put a restriction on H1B and other preferential visa policies
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The President of the United States announced that he will be signing an executive order to introduce restrictions on the H1-B, L-1 and other preferential visa systems for speciality work. This announcement came after the earlier announcement of the president where he said he will curb the immigration to provide employment to the American citizens who have lost their job due to business closure in COVID-19 pandemic.

This announcement is crucial to Indian companies and Indian citizens who are looking for job opportunities in the United States of America. This will also negatively affect the US Companies that are looking for cheap labour in the STEM workforce. Earlier also it has been reported that denial percentage in the H1-B visa applications were increasing after the President Donald Trump election to the post of President. He is known for his anti-immigrant sentiments. President Trump also indicated that these restrictions might go longer than expected depending on the circumstances.

H1-B and H4 visas have been a sensitive topic for Indian people working in the United States as almost 70% of the H1-B Visa holders are Indian. Recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the unemployment rate for computer-related occupations had declined from 3% in January 2020 to 2.5% in May, even as the unemployment rate for other occupations grew from 4.1% to 13.5%.

From an Indian perspective, this is another big jolt to Indians aspiring to work outside after Kuwait’s announcement that they will bring down the number of immigrants in their country. This will also have a huge negative impact on the remittances coming back to India. As per the data released by the World Bank, remittances in South Asia may decline by 22.1% and overall the remittances will decline by 19.7%.

H1-B Visa, which is a non-immigrant visa, allows the holder to work in the USA on a temporary basis for six years and this term can be extended. Each year 85000 foreign workers are allowed in the US to work for the US Companies under H1-B visa. Out of this 85000 visas issued to foreign workers, 20,000 are restricted to individuals who have received master’s degrees or higher from U.S colleges or universities.

H4 visa allows the spouses of the H1-B visa holder to apply for EAD(Employment Authorization Document) with the help of which they can also work in the USA. The system of EAD has been criticised by the USA citizens for being biased as it treats the spouses almost equal to citizens and the EAD holders do not have to go through the severe scrutiny to which H1-B visa holders are sentenced. EAD holders can work anywhere and can also start new businesses although their spouses who are H1-B visa holders cannot be a part of the new business as it will be considered a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act of the USA.

Like Kuwait and the USA, other countries are also contemplating reducing the number of immigrants in their jurisdiction to provide employment to their own citizens. The questions that remain are how will India respond to this? What measures will be taken to generate employment for Indians in India? Will Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan be enough to provide employment to all the returnees?