By PTI | Published: 12th January 2017, In New Indian Express
(Note: Closely related are H-1 Visa and outsourcing. H-1 visa is for outsiders to come into US to work in US. The complaint here is that outsiders work here for lesser pay but it takes away work from Americans queuing up here for higher pay. Outsourcing means sending out a work done in US for lesser pay in India or China. In both cases it deprives American workers their job opportunities.
Obama administration has been rather liberal both in outsourcing work and in getting qualified workers from outside to work in US. On the other hand the incoming president is totally against importing workers from outside on the plea that so many job opportunities are denied to natives/citizens here.
At the same time Trump had expressed high regard for Indian workers because of their intelligence and hard work. Only he insists those who come to study here should not go back to their country thus causing brain drain to US. It is a tricky issue like having the cake and eating it.
So according to reports India has the highest number of H-1 visa holders in US, more than 110,000 as of Sept.2015 and this in spite of the fact that US doubled the H-1 visa fee to $4000/- This has not reduced the number of applicants either. That means it should be a sort of money-spinning business for both the countries, when looked at from different angles. So let the champions of the rights of American and foreign workers thrash it out and come to civilized agreement during the reign of the new President Donald Trump. james kottoor, editor).
WASHINGTON: US President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for the post of Attorney-General has assured lawmakers of taking steps towards pushing legislative measures to curb misuse of H-1B and L1 work visas significantly used by Indian IT professionals and allegedly replace American workers.
"It's simply wrong to think that we're in a totally open world and that any American with a job can be replaced if somebody in the world is willing to take a job for less pay," Senator Jeff Sessions told members of Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing for the position of US Attorney-General.
"We have borders. We have a commitment to our citizens and you have been a champion of that. I've been honoured to work with you on it," Sessions said in response to a question from Senator Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In the past, both Sessions and Grassley have worked together to bring legislations on H-1B visas that badly hit Indian IT companies. The Office of Special Counsel for immigration related unfair employment practices is an office within the Justice Department which would be headed by Sessions if he is confirmed by the US Senate. The Office enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
"While the office is designed to protect foreign nationals with employment visas from discrimination, it is also charged with ensuring that American workers are not discriminated against in the workplace. Many US workers advocate that the layoff of American workers and the replacement by cheaper, foreign, H-1B workers constitutes de facto nationality based discrimination against American workers," Grassley said.
"The Obama administration has failed to protect American workers here. Will you, this is my question, will you be more aggressive in investigating the abuses of these visa programmes?" he asked. "I believe this has been an abuse. And I have been pleased to support your legislation and some others too, that others have produced that I believe could be helpful. It needs to be addressed," Sessions said.
Describing Sessions as a vocal champion for American workers, Grassley said many American workers are being laid off and replaced by cheaper foreign labour imported through some of the US visa programmes.
Sessions, Grassley and Senator Dick Durbin in the past had co-sponsored a Bill that would reform H-1B visa programmes by ensuring that qualified American workers are considered for high-skilled job opportunities before those jobs can be offered to foreign nationals. "It also prohibit a company from hiring H-1B employees if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50 per cent of their employees are H-1B or L-1 visa holders," he said.
Despite a hefty hike in fees of US H-1B and L-1 visas, there has been no drop in number of applications from India and the country continues to be the highest recipient of H-1B visas, the highest US official in Washington dealing with international visa issues said here last August.
“Indian citizens receive almost 70 percent of all the H-1B visas issued worldwide,” Michele Bond, US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, said during a media interaction here.
“Overwhelmingly, Indian applicants are the ones who are successful in qualifying for these visas,” she said.As for L-1 visas, she said that Indian citizens received around 30 percent of all such visas issued.The US doubled the visa fees to $4,000 for H-1B and to $4,500 for L-1 at the end of last year.
Indian IT bellwethers have most of their employees working on site holding H-1B visas.Bond said that in US fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015), more than H-1B visas were issued to Indian citizens.“This is a priority for us because we are part of a bilateral India and US effort to grow their economic and commercial ties,” she said.
Asked if there has been any move to revisit the issue of hike in visa fees, she said: “These specific visas where the fees changed — the H and L visas — we have seen no drop in the number of applications for those visas, no lessening of interest in obtaining those visas. It was a legislative change, so we were implementing that law.”
Bond came to India to attend the annual bilateral consular dialogue that was held here on Monday during which issues like facilitating tourism and business and other travel between the two countries, visa assessing, protection of US citizens in India, transparent international adoption, and preventing international parental child abduction cases were discussed.
While she led the US delegation, P. Kumaran, Joint Secretary (Consular, Passport, Visa) in the Ministry of External Affairs, headed the Indian side.