New Delhi, April 4: The U.S has ruled that being a simple computer programmer would no longer qualify as a specialist profession, which is a must for the issue of H-1B work visa. Through a new policy memorandum issued on March 31, superseding and rescinding its previous guidelines of December, 2000, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has ruled that an entry level computer programmer position would not generally qualify as a position in a specialty occupation.
1. What is H-1B visa?
H-1B is a non-immigrant visa granted by the US government that allows employers based in the US to employ foreign workers. The initial duration of stay is 3 years. It can be extended up to 6 years. For such a visa, an employer must offer a job and apply for employee’s H-1Bvisa petition with the US Immigration Department. An approved petition becomes a work permit. It allows the employee to obtain a visa stamp and work in the US for that company alone.
Even though the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few temporary visa categories recognized as dual intent meaning an H-1B holder can have legal immigration intent (apply for and obtain the green card) while still a holder of the H-1B visa.
2. The earlier situation of H-1B visa
Since the inception H-1B visa in 1990, more than 60 percent of the US employees of Infosys are H-1B holders today. The US business ecosystem has seen a sharp rise in their economy. The highest plunge of this visa was witnessed in 1998 to2004 when Indians shifted to US. Indian IT companies with roots in India took about 21,750 visas of the total 65,000 cap in 2014. Big US employers of H-1B include Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, Accenture, Syntel, Apple etc.
On the report of, U.S Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, China grabs the first place with 21.8% (22,64,412) of nonimmigrant visas issued in the year 2016. Mexico stands second with 13.5% (14,00,179) and India stands third with 9.4% (9,77,825) of nonimmigrant visas issued last year.
3. What is the new amendment?
According to the policy memorandum by USCIS, statements in the memorandum do not fully or properly articulate the criteria that apply to H-1B specialty occupation adjudications. An individual with an associate’s degree may enter the occupation of computer programmer. An entry-level computer programmer position would not generally qualify as a position in a specialty occupation because the plain language of the statutory and regulatory definition of “specialty occupation” requires in part that the proffered position have a minimum entry requirement of a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree.
The aforementioned official statements mean that if you're educated outside the US in a degree which is unrelated to computer science or programming, entry on an H-1B visa becomes difficult. The new rules also prefer that the applicant should be educated in the US on an associated with a bachelor's degree in computer sciences. The new rules also imply that diploma level software programmers are likely to be barred from entry on an H-1B visa from this season onward. The skilled labourers will have a chance to still stay in US.
4. Effect of the new amendment
Skilled foreign workers who come to work in the United States on H1-B visas don’t just directly supplement the US IT industry with specialized skill sets; they also contribute indirectly to other industries in the US. Often H1-B workers bring their families along and thereby bring additional business for other industries like real estate, Banking, hospitality, to name a few. The effects of this announcement will impact the GDP and the overall business economy and growth of US. While 20 percent of H1-B visa quotas have been set aside for start-ups and small employers with 50 or fewer employees, there is no denying that this will be a dampener to the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Furthermore, IT companies might now set up their bases in countries like Canada and Mexico where Indians are welcome to work in a foreign land. With such stringent actions, Trump’s administration is about to face serious damages to the outsourcing business reflecting it on the economy. The process of innovation will be hampered and the local talents in America won’t be able to fill the space in the IT industry.