In order to attract and retain high-skill workers from abroad — to help expand the economy and create jobs — the United States plans to allow their spouses to work here.
This could have mixed results for India and Indians.
The Department of Homeland Security will announce proposed rules "authorizing employment for spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas," said the White House on Monday.
The United States grants 65,000 new H-1B visas every year to high-skill workers from abroad and 20,000 to foreigners graduating from its universities.
The 2014 application process is currently under way.
Studies have shown that foreign-born entrepreneurs — mostly Indians and Chinese — were behind one in four US technology start-ups, creating thousands of jobs.
To get more of out this trend, there is a proposal to lift the annual cap — to 115,000, and to 180,000 eventually, according to a Senate legislation passed last year.
A large number of these visas go to Indians — hired by both Indian companies in the US such as Wipro and Infosys, and US-based MNCs such as IBM and Microsoft.
Many of them stay on, moving from H-1B to Green Card to, inevitably by then, citizenship, depriving India of their talents honed on highly subsidized education — brain-drain.
That’s bad news for India.
But it is anything but bad for Indians who want to work and then, eventually, live here. If their spouses are allowed to work, US becomes that much more attractive.