Trump Signs New Order On H-1B Visa Hiring
On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring federal agencies from hiring H-1B visa holders and other foreign workers in place of US citizens or green card holders. The H1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise
Who are given such visas?
According to data from the US Department of Labor, of 65,000 new visa applications approved every year, an average 1,800 to 2,000, or roughly 3%, are H-1B visas granted to workers employed by federal agencies.
To keep costs in check, federal agencies in the US — and various other countries — either hire a large number of foreign workers or outsource their back-end database updation and other jobs to business process outsourcing firms from around the world. Such jobs in developed countries pay minimal wages, which are not lucrative enough for employable individuals in these countries.
How will the new order impact Indian workers in the US?
Apart from workers hired by federal agencies, the executive order will also impact workers of Indian companies that are on contract with federal agencies. Bigger federal agencies such as state-run banks give the contract for supply and maintenance of their databases and other services to bigger Indian companies such as Infosys, TCS, or Wipro.
In 2019, Infosys set up a US subsidiary to focus on winning servicing contracts from healthcare and other related projects in the US and Canada. Beyond the US, the Australian federal government’s Services Australia chose Infosys last November to “transform the entitlement calculation engine for the nation’s welfare system”.
Calling the new executive order “ based on misperceptions, and misinformation”, industry body Nasscom said that such a measure could slow down the recovery phase of the US as countries start unlocking. “The order is particularly coming at a time when there is a huge shortage of STEM skills in the US that workers on short-term non-immigrant visas like H-1B and L-1 help bridge,” Nasscom said in a statement.
What does the new order say?
The executive order has called upon federal agencies to stop replacing US workers and green card holders with H-1B visa holders or other foreign workers. President Trump has also asked the heads of departments of all such agencies under the federal government to review the contracts they gave out in the two previous financial years, and the performance of such contracts or subcontracts.
The heads of departments will undertake an audit of these contracts and subcontracts, and check whether the jobs could have been performed by US workers, and whether opportunities for domestic workers were impacted by such hiring.