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US imposes new curbs on H-1B visas

Washington: The Trump administration has announced new restrictions on H-1B nonimmigrant visa program which, it said, is aimed at protecting American workers, restoring integrity and to better guarantee that H-1B petitions are approved only for qualified beneficiaries and petitioners, a move which is likely to affect thousands of Indian IT professionals.

The interim final rule announced by the Department of Homeland Security, less than four weeks ahead of the US presidential election, will narrow the definition of specialty occupation as Congress intended by closing the overbroad definition that allowed companies to game the system.

It will also require companies to make real offers to real employees, by closing loopholes and preventing the displacement of the American workers. And finally, the new rules would enhance the department’s ability to enforce compliance through worksite inspections and monitor compliance before, during and after an H1-B petition is approved.

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

Such a decision by the Trump administration is likely to have an adverse impact on thousands of Indian IT professionals. Already a large number of Indians on the H-1B visas have lost their jobs and are headed back home during the coronavirus pandemic that has severely hit the US economy.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the interim final rule to be published in the Federal Register will be effective in 60 days.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services is forgoing the regular notice and comment period to immediately ensure that employing H-1B workers will not worsen the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and adversely affect wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers, it said.

US Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said that these changes will strengthen foreign worker programs and secure American workers’ opportunities for stable, good-paying jobs.

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