US proposal on H-1B for skilled jobs could affect hundreds of Indians


The proposal will affect about 8,000 foreign workers per year, the State Department said. (File)


The State Department proposed not to issue temporary business visas for H-1B specialist occupations, which has allowed several companies to send their tech professionals for a short stay to do work on site. in the United States, a decision that could affect hundreds of Indians.

The proposal, if finalized, will eliminate any misconception that the “B-1 instead of H” policy provides another opportunity for foreign professionals to enter the United States to engage in skilled labor for them. Allows and even encourages them and their employers to circumvent the restrictions and requirements for the H classification of nonimmigrants established by Congress to protect American workers, the State Department said.

The move, made public on Wednesday, less than two weeks before the November 3 presidential election, is likely to impact several Indian companies that send their tech professionals on B-1 visas for a short stay to perform. on-site work in the United States.

On December 17, 2019, the California Attorney General announced a $ 800,000 settlement against Infosys Limited to resolve allegations that approximately 500 Infosys employees were working in the state on Infosys-sponsored B-1 visas rather than visas. H-1B, the State Department said. .

“The proposed changes and the resulting transparency would reduce the impact of foreign labor on the US labor force of foreigners engaged in a skilled occupation without the procedural protections associated with the H-1B classification,” did he declare.

In its federal notification released on Wednesday, the State Department said the US architectural firm seeking to protect itself from rising labor costs in the country might believe it could fire its American architects and contract for the same professional architectural services provided by a foreign architectural firm. .

If the foreign company applied for H-1B visas for its architects, it would be required to pay the prevailing salary for architects in the field of intended employment in the United States, presumably the same salary that American architects had been paid for. paid, and respond to each other. requirements passed by Congress to protect American workers.

But under the B-1 instead of H policy, foreign architects could ostensibly apply for B-1 visas and travel to the United States to fill a temporary need for architectural services, provided they retain a residence in the foreign country and continue to receive a salary, perhaps significantly lower than what is usual for American architects, dispersed abroad by the foreign company (or under the auspices of a parent company or foreign subsidiary ), the State Department said.

Under the direction of the department, visas could be issued to several architects who are planning temporary work in the United States in certain situations. However, a foreign employer may be successful in undermining US immigration law and policy by alternating architects between the US and the foreign country in order to effectively fill the position of an American architect at a significantly lower cost. , according to the notification.

“If the architects who intended to perform qualified work were” of distinguished merit and ability … seeking to perform (temporary architectural services) of an exceptional nature requiring such merit and such a capacity, one could argue that the current regulatory language suggests this type of work. is an authorized basis for issuing B-1 nonimmigrant visas, ”the State Department said.

This potential outcome is bad for American workers and contrary to the policies of the Trump administration, he said.
The State Department said the B-1 visa application process does not include similar procedural requirements to protect U.S. workers like that for H-1B visas.

Also, the fees for B-1 visas are much lower than for H-1B visas.
While Congress has demanded that H-1B employers pay significant fees to fund U.S. workforce assistance as well as the prevention and detection of skilled workforce fraud, the Employers are not required to pay comparable fees to employ skilled workers under the B-1 instead. of policy H, he said.

According to the notification, the State Department estimates that this proposal will affect no more than 6,000 to 8,000 foreign workers per year, especially foreigners intending to provide services in a skilled occupation in the United States.

According to his estimates, up to 28% of the approximately 8,000 annual B-1 visas issued under the B-1 instead of H policy were for foreign workers who had applied for a visa to provide services in a specialized occupation for a small entity. in the USA.


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