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Congressional bills insist H-1B visa programme eats into American jobs

Authors of all these bills from both the Republican and the Democratic parties believe that H-1B work visas, which are highly popular among Indian techies and Indian IT companies, tend to replace American workers.

world Updated: Mar 09, 2017 18:44 IST
Authors of all these bills from believe that H-1B work visas, which are highly popular among Indian techies and Indian IT companies, tend to replace American workers.
Authors of all these bills from believe that H-1B work visas, which are highly popular among Indian techies and Indian IT companies, tend to replace American workers.(Reuters File Photo)

With the Trump administration seriously mulling H-1B visa reforms, at least half a dozen bills have been tabled in the US house of representatives and the senate, contending that the programme that is popular among Indian IT firms eats into American jobs.

Authors of all these bills from both the Republican and the Democratic parties believe that H-1B work visas, which are highly popular among Indian techies and Indian IT companies, tend to replace American workers.

In less than a week of Trump being sworn in as the US President, Republican senator Chuck Grassley and assistant senate minority leader Dick Durbin introduced the “H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act” to prioritise American workers and restore fairness in visa programmes for skilled workers.

Grassley is chairman of the senate judiciary committee.

The H1-B reform bill proposes to eliminate the lottery system and give foreign students educated in the US priority on visas.

The bill will prohibit companies with more than 50 employees, of which at least half are H-1B or L-1 holders, from hiring additional H-1B employees.

It also explicitly prohibits the replacement of American workers by H-1B or L-1 visa holders. The bill among other things will also crackdown on outsourcing companies that import large numbers of H-1B and L-1 workers for temporary training purposes only to send the workers back to their home countries to do the same job.

Democrat Zoe Lofgren -- who represents a Congressional district in California that includes Silicon Valley -- introduced ‘The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017’.

As soon as the bill, which proposes a skill and wage-based system for allocation of H-1B visas and seeks to more than double the minimum wage for an H-1B visa holder to $130,000, was introduced, stocks of major Indian information technology went down and rattled the $150-billion outsourcing industry.

“It’s near-impossible to design an immigration system that selects only the highest-paid and still protects the inventiveness and meritocracy that has made Silicon Valley the centre of the tech world,” said Ridhika Batra, US-head of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries.

“Like all forms of protectionism, these measures by (the) US government would only lower standards and reduce productivity, eventually causing the US to lose the edge -- and the income -- that comes with being the undisputed champion of innovation,” she said.