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Expect fewer visas from the US

So firms receiving taxpayer money in the US bailout could face tough restrictions if they decide to hire foreigners under a visa category for highly skilled workers called H-1B, reports V Krishna.

world Updated: Feb 09, 2009 23:50 IST
V Krishna

So firms receiving taxpayer money in the US bailout could face tough restrictions if they decide to hire foreigners under a visa category for highly skilled workers called H-1B. The restrictions were tagged on to the stimulus bill by Senators Chuck Grassley and Bernie Sanders.

These, we are told, are essentially the same rules that apply to “H1-B dependent employers.” But what precisely is an H1-B dependent employer?

We asked Inderpreet Sawhney, a senior partner and head of the immigration practice at the Chugh law firm in Santa Clara, California.

She says that for a firm to be classified as H1-B dependent, a high proportion of its staff must be on such visas. To be precise, if it has:

n 25 or fewer full-time employees, more than seven must be H-1Bs;

n between 26 and 50 full-time employees, more than 12 must be H-1Bs;

n 51 or more full-time employees, 15 per cent must be H-1Bs.

Even these firms can hire H-1B workers who will be paid $60,000 or more a year or have a relevant master’s or higher degree — so-called “exempt employees” — without jumping through extra hoops. But for others, the firms are required to meet additional conditions designed to protect US workers.

First, says Sawhney, the firm must attest that it tried to recruit US workers in accordance with standard industry practice. This is called the “recruitment attestation.”

Then there is the “displacement attestation.” The employer must affirm that the H-1B worker’s hiring did not displace a US worker in the same job 90 days before the filing of the petition and will not do so for 90 days afterwards, Sawhney says. Even “secondary displacement” — at a client’s site — must be ruled out.

As Computerworld said, the amendment may be tougher than the current law: It makes no exception for workers who make more than $60,000 or have an advanced degree.

And the measure covers not just financial institutions but any company that received bailout money or emergency funding from the Federal Reserve, a congressional aide clarified to the Hindustan Times. Automakers General Motors and Chrysler received emergency funding.

John Nahajzer, managing partner at Maggio & Kattar PC in Washington D.C., told Computerworld companies affected by the proposed law would be unlikely to hire H-1B workers, because of the tough conditions.

Indians get the biggest chunk of H-1B visas.