Despite being just weeks faraway from exiting the Oval Office , President Donald Trump has shown he remains firm in his resolve to dampen the prospects of ambitious Indian IT professionals through the extension of the US’ temporary H-1B visa ban for a further three months. The suspension also extends to other visa categories including the H-2B, H-4, L-1 and specific classes of J-1 visas.
The H-1B programme is meant to accommodate high-skilled workers (historically dominated by the American and Indian IT sectors) while the L-1 programme provides provisions for intra-company employee transfers to the us .
Over the years, the programme has served as a key instrument for Indian IT companies also as Silicon Valley tech outfits like Apple and Google to import foreign workers into specialty occupations that need significant levels of technical or theoretical expertise. The United States government , reportedly, issues 85,000 H-1B visas annually and Indians account for nearly 70 per cent of them.
However, within the wake of the pandemic and therefore the disastrous impact it’s had on US unemployment rates, the Trump Administration, via two proclamations made in April and June, implemented a short lived suspension of the non-immigrant visa until December 2020.
It contended that given the utilization distress that Americans were facing – a reported 40 million Americans were suffering from job losses as a results of the COVID-19 outbreak – the utilization prospects of domestic workers needed to be protected.
Workers who were already on H-1B visas residing inside or outside the US were exempted from the ban. the newest extension of the ban though, now means those that may have applied for H-1B visas from October onwards will now need to wait till the top of March before their visas are granted.
It is worth noting though that as fas because the US’ IT sector goes, the pandemic didn’t appear to possess such a marked impact with the unemployment within the sector rising only from 3 per cent in January to three .5 per cent in September 2020. What’s more, in additional recent weeks President Trump has lauded the development in unemployment numbers – the US’ percentage is now approximately half what it had been during its April high. This, however, appears to possess not been enough to convince the US president to reopen the borders to H-1B workers.
As per some reports, Indian companies’ reliance on the H-1B visa category has been waning in recent years. Traditionally, companies like Wipro, TCS, and Infosys have, reportedly, followed an 80:20 ‘offsite-onsite’ ratio. this suggests that if ten employees were required for a specific project, two of those would work from the us while eight worked from India. This model though has evolved in recent years as companies sought to recruit more local talent.
Moreover, in October last year, a US court ruled that some employers, supported their membership to pick industry organisations, were exempt from the June ban. The plaintiffs within the case included the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, TechNet and Intrax among others. However, the NAM judgement, because it has come to be called, has been appealed by the United States government with subsequent scheduled hearing set to require place on Robert E Lee’s Birthday , 2021