Learn About The Possible Changes To The H1-B Visa

By | January 24, 2017

Learn About The Possible Changes To The H1-B Visa

Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America, is looking to introduce reforms that will benefit Americans. This may not be great news for Indians travelling to the United States (US) on a work visa, considering the fact that more than 70% of H1-B visas are issued to Indians.

Tip: If you’re one of them, don’t forget your Travel Insurance.

A few weeks ago, some American lawmakers introduced a bill named the Protect and Grow American Jobs Bill. This bill, which may eventually become an Act, seems to be aimed at changing H1-B and L-1 visa rules. Before going into the proposed changes to the visa, let us understand what an H1-B visa is.

What is an H1-B visa?

An H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa that is used by US employers to hire skilled workers from other countries. A person holding an H1-B visa can work in the US for a maximum of 6 years. This includes an extension of 3 years.

Want an H1-B visa after the 6 year period?

You need to leave the US for a year to become eligible for H1-B visa again. The cap for the H1-B visa program is fixed at 65,000 applicants. Note that 20,000 slots are reserved for those who have completed a master’s degree or higher qualification.

How does the selection happen?

Lottery! The ground reality is that the US immigration receives far too many H1-B applications. They need to fill the H1-B slots within 5 days of the onset of the H1-B program. So, a computer program is used to choose H1-B applicants at random to allot them their visas.

Additional Reading: 5 Beautiful Countries Indians Can Visit Without A Visa

Now, coming to the proposed changes to the H1-B process.

  1. It is said that the Protect and Grow American Jobs Bill will do away with the reservation for those holding a Master’s degree or higher. As mentioned earlier, the quota here is 20,000 slots. The bill seeks to amend the definition of an exempt H1-B non-immigrant, and in the process remove the exemption for those holding a Master’s degree.

With a number of IT professionals in India holding a Master’s degree or higher, Indians had an edge over applicants from other countries. If this exemption is removed, Indians will have to compulsorily be part of the ‘lottery’ system.

  1. According to the bill, US companies cannot hire more than 50 foreign employees, or 50% of their total employees, under the H1-B visa program. If it is going to be least of the two mentioned criterion, then, most big firms can hire only 50 foreign employees, where Indians will only form a small part of the workforce.

This applies to the L-1 visa program as well. If you didn’t know, the L-1 visa program is a program that allows a temporary non-immigrant to work in the US for a US parent company or a subsidiary.

  1. The biggest hit might be the ‘increase in annual salary’ rule. The bill says that the minimum salary of an H1-B visa holder, if they are hired to work in US, should be $ 110,000 per year. This might make firms think twice about hiring Indian workers, especially if they can get skilled US workers for a far lower salary.

The usual practice of companies is to hire Indian workers as trainees and then take them on as full-time employees. The new rule, if implemented, might put an end to this practice.

  1. Another important rule that is proposed under the bill is that foreign employees cannot replace American employees. Essentially, firms will be prohibited from hiring foreign employees to replace US employees. These rules will apply to both H1-B as well as L-1 visa holders.
  1. Perhaps the most important change that is being proposed is the authority that will be given to the US Department of Labour. This department will be given authority to review and investigate an employer’s compliance towards US visa rules. They can also conduct an audit to get more information and penalize any fraudulent practice.

If implemented, the bill might make it tougher for an Indian to get an H1-B or even an L-1 visa to work in the US. If you manage to get a visa to the US, don’t forget to take a good Credit Card along.

Additional Reading: Everything You Need To Know About Airline Credit Cards

Do make sure that you have all your finances and taxes set right in India before going to the US. You can continue to maintain your Fixed Deposit account right here in India.

Additional Reading: 5 Reasons To Open A Fixed Deposit Today

If you are waiting to receive your visa, all the best!

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