Economy

US Chamber of Commerce to seek doubling of H-1B quota

Debangana Ghosh Mumbai | Updated on June 22, 2021

This is to address the shortage of skilled workforce in the US

The US Chamber of Commerce will urge the Biden administration and Congress to double the number of H-1B visas and eliminate the per-country quote for Green Card to address the shortage of skilled workforce in America.

Through the America Works Agenda, the US Chamber is calling for doubling the cap on employment-based visas.

Other reforms

This includes doubling the quota on H-1B and H-2B visas. It has also called for doubling employment-based seasonal immigrant visas from 140,000/year to 280,000/year, and implementing other reforms to the legal immigration system, helping companies’ access to employees for high-demand jobs in labour-strapped sectors.

“As we stand on the cusp of what could be a great American resurgence, a worker shortage is holding back job creators across the country,” said Suzanne Clark, US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

Good for Indian IT sector

Poorvi Chothani, Managing Partner, LawQuest, told BusinessLine that the move to increase the H-1B visa quota, if implemented, will be very good for the Indian IT sector.

“As of now, of the 85,000 H-1B visas offered per year across countries, including 20,000 H-1B visas offered to applicants with American masters’ degree or higher, about 70 per cent of these go to Indians due to the high volume of applications for Indian candidates.

“The approved applications are picked through a lottery system. This year only about 22-25 per cent of the total pool of applications get selected. This has been the lowest we have seen,” said Poorvi Chothani, Managing Partner, LawQuest. The immigration law firm operates offices in Mumbai, New York and Florida. Sonam Chandwani, Managing Partner, KS Legal & Associates, said: “With the US CoC campaigning to double the number of H-1B visas and eliminate per-country quota for Green Card, the stance sends out a positive message for Indian techies looking to advance their careers in the US. Further, such encouragement demonstrated by the US CoC has invariably renewed a sense of optimism among Indians looking to make a move to the US as a professional or business owner.”

The US Chamber has also suggested eliminating the practice of counting spouses and minor children under the annual Green Card quota, which, if done alone, will practically double the amount of employment-based immigrant workers our nation admits every year. It urged the Biden government to provide employment-based Green Cards to international students graduating from US universities upon graduating; also, it expands the scope for entrepreneurs to get permanent residency to build businesses in the country.

“Create a new, geographically targeted visa programme, along the lines of the Heartland Visa proposal, that will drive economic and population growth into American communities struggling with the serious economic and social problems caused by significant population loss,” it said.

The US CoC is looking to expand access to H-2A agricultural worker visas for non-seasonaI agricultural businesses, including dairies and livestock producers.

While President Joe Biden has been pro-immigration, he is also ensuring that only highly qualified and skilled workers get through. He had made it a part of his manifesto, too, said Chothani.

“Earlier, the Trump administration had proposed revisions to the way wages would be determined and the way in which the H-1B selection process would work. These have not been implemented as yet, but they have not been revoked by the current administration either. It appears that the Biden administration will bring about these changes but may modify the modalities,” said Chothani.

She added: “However, I don’t completely agree with using high salaries as a way to filter candidates. This would negatively affect smaller companies, not-for-profit organisations. Also, wage increase needs to be moderate for the I-T sector to continue to remain financially viable.”

“The imposition of freeze on the most sought-after H1-B visa by the Trump administration disrupted the lives of numerous Indian techies and US tech companies. The expiration of the freeze percolated a sense of renewed optimism among immigrants under the tutelage of Biden administration. Further, some recent Bills aim to facilitate unification of families and with Indian workers accounting for a lion’s share in the H1-B visa holder category are likely to be major beneficiaries of the same,” added Chandwani.

Published on June 22, 2021

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