H1B visa reform bill introduced in US, minimum pay doubled to $130,000.
What is a H1-B visa?
The H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa given by the United States to employ skilled workers from other countries for various specialised fields of occupation for a certain period of time.
What is the H1-B visa programme Bill?
– The Bill prohibits companies from hiring H1-B employees if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50 per cent of their employees are H1-B and L-1 visa holders.
– The Bill encourages companies to recruit American workers. This provision would crack down on outsourcing companies that import large numbers of H-1B and L-1 workers for short training periods and then send these workers back to their home country to do the work of Americans, the Senators who introduced the Bill had said.
– It explicitly prohibits replacement of American workers by H1-B or L-1 visa holders.
– The Bill seeks to give the Department of Labour enhanced authority to review, investigate and audit employer compliance as well as to penalise fraudulent or abusive conduct.
What is the High Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act?
Introduced in the lower house by California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, the Act will make it mandatory for employers sponsoring H1-B visas for immigrant workers to pay a minimum wage of $130,000, 200 per cent higher than the previous minimum wage of $60,000. It is interesting to note that Lofgren is affiliated to the Democratic Party and California is home to the famed silicon valley, which houses the world’s best tech companies.
Who will be affected?
The reforms are being introduced to protect the interests of Americans against the influx of foreign workers in the US job market. US issues 85,000 H1-B visas every year, a sizeable chunk of the applicants are Indians. Indian students migrating to the states for pursuing a higher degree and tech companies that send their workers on off-site projects will be among the most affected by the changes to the visa policy.
How will this impact India?
The effects of the Act have already been felt in the Indian markets, with share prices of major tech companies plummeting. Infosys, TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and HCL were among those badly hit. The Act could also lead to a decrease in interest in students flocking to American universities, thereby minimising the brain drain.