With the Donald 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 the programme — popular among Indian IT firms — eats into American jobs.
While the ‘H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act’, one of the six Bills, proposes to eliminate the lottery system, it would also 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.
The Bill also seeks to ensure that American workers are not replaced by H-1B or L-1 visa holders and aims to crack down on outsourcing companies that import large numbers of H-1B and L-1 workers for training, only to send them back to their home countries to do the same job.
Another Bill, the ‘High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017’ which proposes a skill and wage-based system for allocation of H-1B visas, seeks to more than double the minimum wage for an H-1B visa holder to $130,000.
As soon as it was introduced, the Bill caused stocks of major Indian information technology companies to go down and rattled the $150-billion outsourcing industry.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who met Trump this week, said the current system needs to be reformed. “The President wants to get the very best people from around the world... They don’t bring in PhDs and computer scientists.
They bring in mid-level and they replace mid-level data management workers. That’s why you get controversies like people losing their jobs... (to) foreign workers who weren’t necessarily high skilled,” Cotton argued.
Meanwhile, increasing attacks on Indians living in the US was raised as an issue of ‘concern’ among the Delhi political circles on Thursday. Congress leader Mallikharjun Kharge accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of remaining silent on the issue.
However, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the incidents were being viewed seriously by India and the government would make a statement on the matter in Parliament next week.