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Successful applicants will be able to work in the US from October 1, 2018, during the tenure of the visa – which maybe for an initial maximum period of three years.
WHAT IS H-1B VISA? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR INDIA?
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US firms to employ foreign workers in jobs that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is the sponsoring company that files the H-IB visa application and not the visa-seeker (employee). Only 65,000 visas are allotted annually under the regular cap (also known as general quota) and an additional 20,000 visas under the Master’s cap (for those having an advanced degree from US universities). Given the high demand for H-1B visas, the number of applicants far outstrips the quota set by the US government.
When it comes to spouses of H-1B visa holders, they get the H4 visa currently, which doesn’t allow them to work or run a business until they obtain an employment authorisation document (EAD).
H-1B visas are extremely sought after by technology companies in India for sending their employees to work on client sites. Technology companies depend on this visa to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries such as India and China.
WHY BAGGING A H-1B VISA IS TOUGHER THIS TIME?
A policy memorandum issued by the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) on February 22 said its officers could seek detailed documentation and more evidence from firms to establish that they have specific assignments in a specialty occupation for the H-1B beneficiary, and that they have these assignments for the entire time requested on the petition.
From February 22 onwards, employers submitting initial or renewal petitions for H-1B visas will also have to provide all contracts between them, the intermediary vendors and all end clients.
Prior to the issue of this policy memorandum, USCIS generally permitted petitioning employers to provide general statements regarding the dates and locations of an H-1B employee’s proposed or possible deputation at third party locations. Now this stands overturned as a specific detailed itinerary corroborated with contracts is required.
US immigration authorities will also seek to block filing of multiple applications by ‘related entities’ for the same visa-seeker, for substantially the same job. In a policy memorandum dated March 23, but made public recently, the USCIS states that in cases where multiple applications are filed by ‘related entities’ (which means a parent company, a subsidiary or even an affiliate) for the same visa-seeker, there needs to be a legitimate business need. Else, these applications will be rejected.
WHY TRUMP IS ACTING TOUGH ON H-1B
The Donald Trump administration came into power in the US, riding on back of its slogan “Make America great again”. Since assuming office in January last year, President Trump and his government has been cracking down on the the H-1B visa scheme. In fact, earlier this year, exactly a year after the Trump regime came into power, a top Republican senator said that the said worker visa puts American workers at risk. “The H-1B visa is one programme that really puts American workers at risk,” Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, had said during a Congressional hearing on homeland security.
Industry watchers view the American crackdown on H-1B as an extension of its protectionist policies. Grassley had said that it was encouraging to see the Citizenship and Immigration Services announcing several H-1B initiatives “designed to protect American workers”. The American senator had even blamed H-1B workers for being the reason behind “stagnation” of salaries in the technology sector. “The vast majority of these H-1B workers are employed in the technology sector, and we’ve seen salaries in that industry stagnate for decades, at the same time the number of foreign tech workers keeps growing,” he had said.