US President-elect Donald Trump has listed immigration reform among executive actions he plans on his first day in office. Ahead of his swearing-in, two American lawmakers have introduced a bill that seeks to change the H-1B and L-1 visa programmes. Here’s how the bill could sting Indian workers:
Hike in visa cost
The US has already sharply hiked H-1B and L-1 visa costs in January 2016 — from $2,000, to $ 6,000 for H-1B and $ 4,500 for L-1 visas — for firms that employed 50 or more workers in US, with more than 50 per cent of them employed on H-1B or L-1 visas.
Bid to change eligibility criteria
The ‘Protect and Grow American Jobs Act’ proposes important changes to the eligibility requirements for H-1B visa exemptions:
1. The bill seeks to remove the Master’s degree exemption for H-1B applicants, which allows them to skip additional paperwork if they have an equivalent of a Master’s or higher degree. A majority of Indian IT professionals who go to US generally have a Master’s degree, which gives them an edge over applicants of other countries.
2. The bill attempts to bar companies that have over 50 employees and 50% of them on H-1B or L1 visas (temporary transfer of foreign workers to US), from hiring more.
3. The bill proposes to raise the minimum salary of H-1B visa to $100,000 per annum (currently it is $60,000 per annum). The hike in minimum salary of an H-1B visa worker to $100,000 per annum would make hiring Indian IT professionals less attractive and may push companies to go for US workers.