Visa Crunch

Democrats criticize new H-1B rules while Republican applaud changes

This new H1-B rule is supposed to go into effect within 60 days, and the new rules would narrow down the definition of “speciality occupation” and shorten the length of H-1B visas for the workers who are placed in third party sites from three years to one year.

Two influencing Democrats have scrutinised the Trump administration’s introduced new rules targeting H-1B visas which are issued majorly to Indian tech workers. In contrast, a prime Republican senator has cheered the move saying it would control the exploitation of the program.

Both Democrats, Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of House Judiciary Committee and Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren, on 8th October, criticised the move as “an attempt to score last-minute political points” before the 3rd November presidential election. But Republican senator Chuck Grassley hailed the action “to address abuses in the high-skilled guest worker program that has been used to displace American workers with low-paid foreign labour.”

The US DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has claimed that narrowing the meaning of “speciality occupation,” as originally intended by Congress, would prevent employers from “gaming the system.” At present, there are close to 600,000 foreign workers on H-1B visa in the United States of which about two-thirds of these visas are acquired by Indian tech professionals in the previous five years.

American and Indian business groups have also criticised the new rules saying that it will make it more challenging to hire highly skilled international employees, and it would hurt American corporations.

Mr Jerrold Nadler claimed that with only less than 30 days to go before the election, the Governments plans to execute the most extensive changes to the H-1B visa program we have seen in decades. He believed that even though the program can benefit from reforms, any new law requires that the citizens be provided with sufficient notice and an opportunity to discuss before a new regulation is implemented. He remarked, “This simply cannot be accomplished to the degree required through an interim final rule, and the administration knows this,”. “This is clearly an attempt to score last-minute political points.”

Ms Zoe Lofgren said that over the years, she had proposed multiple acts which would reform the H-1B program to curb down on inadequate wages and ensure that deceitful companies can’t abuse the program to the disadvantage of domestic workers. She also added that although the system in place needs to be updated, but it shouldn’t be rushed without adequate input from the public. 

On the other hand, The Republican senator Mr Chuck Grassley praised the steps taken by the DHS (Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security) to constrain on widespread abuses within the H-1B nonimmigrant worker program. His concern for a long time with how the H-1B program currently operates was that it severely undermines the American workers from job opportunities and wages. 

Mr Grassley strongly supports the efforts of the DHS (Department of Labors and Homeland Security) as he believes it was high time to curb the abuse on the system. He was satisfied with some of the changes proposed by the DHS as they closely aligned with the H-1B reforms that he had introduced that were a part of the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act (S. 3770) over a decade and was recently reintroduced last year. Mr Grassly considered that the H-1B program instead of being used to fill gaps in high skilled labourers, this system was abused to get cheap labour from foreign workers instead of hiring Americans.

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