President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation in June which temporarily banned nonimmigrant work visas. President Trump portrayed it as a win for the American workforce. He went on to say that more proclamations will follow, “So that no American worker is ever replaced again.”
This order is now going to go to an appeals court after a federal judge in California blocked the proclamation and ruled that the President had overstepped his authority. This ruling will allow companies like Microsoft and Google to bring temporary workers in the United States again. Although, The Department of Homeland Security has presented a new regulation for review that could toughen H-1B visa eligibility and also impose new obligations on companies hiring foreign workers.
The uncertainty with the law has brought plans of multinational companies in doubt and gone on to affect the lives of thousands of foreign works, particularly the workforce from India, who make up more than two-thirds of the H-1B visas issued each year.
Although experts believe that these restrictions will do little to achieve their goal of trying to encourage companies to hire Americans instead of foreign workers. Limit on H-1B visas may lead American companies to shift even more work abroad and Indian outsourcing companies are trying to do just that. The coronavirus pandemic has made a majority of the workforce to work from home, which can bolster the idea that more American jobs can be done remotely.
The June proclamations by the administration didn’t affect the H-1B visa holders already in the US. But it has disrupted the lives of nonimmigrants who were outside of the country when the suspension took effect. The H-1B program allows corporations to bring and employ highly-educated or technically skilled workers from abroad temporarily. Each year about 65,000 applicants are selected randomly in a lottery. Those workers can also bring their families, but they need to apply for Green Card separately if their work ends.
A decade ago Indian outsourcing companies dominated the H-1B lottery. Contrarily, the current lottery list includes some of the most reputed American IT firms. Out of the top 10 sponsors in the last years H-1B lottery, 7 of them were American, which included Amazon and Google. Also, about 15% of Facebook’s employees are H-1B holders. If the administration puts a lot of restriction on H-1B visas, the company might outsource the work overseas.
During the initial days of the pandemic, Indian outsourcing companies also took a massive hit as many workers lacked basic equipment and internet connections to work from home. The companies struggled to source thousands of laptops and desktop’s to send to worker’s homes. As business is recovering, American companies have again resumed looking towards outsourcing their work.