H1-B Visa Reforms

US House of Representatives has introduced legislation which doubles the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $130,000. This H-1B visa reform can stop firms replacing American employees with foreign workers, including Indians. California Congressman Zoe Lofgren introduced this High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017.

The bill prioritizes the market allocation of visas for the companies to pay 200% of a wage calculated by the survey. This will also eliminate the lowest pay category and hikes the salary level of H-1B dependent employer to greater than $130,000.

Now, the hike is more than double of the H-1B minimum wage which is $60,000 currently. The wage rate is set in 1989 and remained unchanged till now ever since then.

“My legislation refocuses the H-1B program to its original intent—to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the US workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers who help create jobs here in America, not replace them,” said Lofgren.

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H-1B Visa Reform Effects

The reform protects the interests of Americans against the arrival of foreigners to work in the US job market. US issues 85,000 H1-B visas every year, of which a sizeable chunk applicants are Indians. Tech companies which send their workers for off-site projects, and Indian students migrating to the US for pursuing a higher degree will be among the most affected by the changes to the visa policy.

Impact on India?

H-1B visa reform effects already took place in the Indian market resulting in a plummet in share prices of the main tech companies. Infosys, TCS, Tech Mahindra, HCL, and Wipro were among those badly hit. The act also leads to drop in the student’s interest towards American universities.

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Will H-1B visa reform leads to US visa rejection?

No, genuine students will not be rejected. The Act means to build a bridge from F-1 student status to Lawful Permanent Residence. So, visas will not be denied only on the basis of applicant intention to immigrate to the US. This also applies for those holding P (Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers) and free trade visa holders and O-1 (Extraordinary Ability).

President Donald Trump’s Role

Trump had also proposed to cut down the number of H1-B visas issued annually. He did not sign an executive order like banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. However, the Bill is likely to be pass as the Republicans control both the Senate and House of Representatives of the Congress.