Relief for Indian techies, US says no change in H-1B visa extension

The USCIS “is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing interpretation of section certain language in Section 104 C of the American

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In a relief for Indian techies, US authorities today said that the Trump administration is not considering any proposal that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the country.

The announcement by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) came days after reports emerged that the Trump administration was considering tightening H-1B visa rules that could lead to deportation of 7,50,000 Indians. | Today’s Paper

The reports had said it was mulling ending extensions for H-1B holders.

The USCIS “is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing interpretation of section certain language in Section 104 C of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) statute that states that USCIS may grant the extensions,” an official said.

This provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit.

“Even if it were, such a change would not likely result in these H-1B visa holders having to leave the United States because employers could request extensions in one-year increments under section 106(a)-(b) of AC21 instead,” Jonathan Withington, Chief of Media Relations at the USCIS, said in a statement.

“The agency is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the Presidents Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment based visa programmes,” Withington said.

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Any disruptive move on H-1B visa will be detrimental for India, US: Nasscom

According to Nasscom, the use of visas by Indian IT firms has fallen by 50% in the last two years

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Any disruptive move on the visa front will be detrimental for both India and the US, with reports suggesting that Washington may be mulling new rules to prevent H-1B visa extensions, software body Nasscom has said. | Today’s Paper 

Estimates show that such a move could lead to deportation of over one million H-1B visa holders in the US — many of them Indians — who are waiting for their green cards.

“It is not only about the Indian IT industry but about all Indians who use H-1B visas… Given that there is a real problem of shortage of skilled professionals in the US, any disruptive move will be detrimental for both India and the US,” Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar told PTI.

He was reacting to reports suggesting that the US Department of Homeland Security is considering new regulations, which will prevent H-1B visa extensions during the pendency of green card approvals.

In other words, if this materialises, the move would prevent foreign workers in the US from keeping their H-1B work visas, while their green card application is under processing.

This is being seen as part of US President Donald Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ campaign that seeks to bring back jobs to the country.

“It is one more step in a series of steps seen over the last one year. While each one individually may have a small impact, cumulatively the impact becomes very significant,” Chandrashekhar said.

Meanwhile, Mahindra Group chief Anand Mahindra sought to soothe frayed nerves in a tweet that read “If that happens, then I say ‘Swagatam, Welcome Home.’ You’re coming back in time to help India Rise”.

According to Nasscom, the use of visas by Indian IT firms has fallen by 50 per cent in the last two years and that the number now stands below 10,000 (of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued annually).

To brace against the impact, Indians IT firms have also been ramping up local recruitments and training manpower in the US.

 

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Getting an H1-B visa to get harder as US announces new anti-fraud measures

USCIS has said that US companies are shirking their responsibility to hire local workers

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The US on Monday announced multiple measures to “deter and detect” what it described as “fraud and abuse” of H-1B work visas, the most sought after by Indian IT firms and professionals.

The announcement by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) comes on a day on which the federal agency started accepting applications for H-1B visas for the financial year beginning October 1, 2017.

The USCIS announcement indicated that the US government is going to be tough and stringent in approval of H-1B visas this year.

The USCIS has a Congressional mandate to issue 65,000 H-1B visas in general category and another 20,000 for those applicants having higher education – masters and above — from US universities in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Asserting that its multiple measures announced on Monday will further “deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse”, the USCIS said the H-1B visa programme should help US companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country.

“Yet, too many American workers who are as qualified, willing and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged. Protecting American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programmes is a priority for the USCIS,” a statement said.

The USCIS also announced the launch of a email helpline against abuse and fraud of H-1B visas. The USCIS will now onwards take a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country to H-1B petitioners and the work sites of H-1B employees.

The USCIS will focus on cases where it cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data; H-1B-dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to US workers, as defined by statute); and employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organisation’s location. (readmore…)