New H-1B visa rules will restrict talent access, hurt US economy: Nasscom

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on October 07, 2020

Regulations are based on misinformation, says IT industry body

Reacting to the latest changes in H-1B visa programme, Indian IT industry body Nasscom said the move will restrict access to talent and will harm the American economy, endanger US jobs, put US interests at risk and slow down R&D into solutions to the Covid crisis.

It is important for the US market to be able to access skilled talent for its businesses, especially during the Covid recovery phase, it said.

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The new rules notified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DoL) for the H-1B visa regime, changes the definitions of specialty occupation, employer, & employee-employer relationship, and limits the validity of an H-1B visa to one year for a worker placed at a third-party worksite; it also increases enforcement and investigations for these visas. The new rules also changes the current four-tiered prevailing wage system for jobs that US employers seek to fill with foreign workers. Both rules will be issued as Interim Final Rules (IFRs), without any notice period or right to comment.

Covid recovery

“These regulations seem to be based on misinformation about the programme and runs counter-productive to their very objective of saving the American economy and jobs. This is particularly relevant at a time when US businesses continues to face a huge deficit of STEM skills: overall US unemployment rate grew from 4.1 per cent in January 2020 to 8.4 per cent in August-2020; while unemployment in computer occupations declined from 3 per cent to 2.5 per cent in this period, Nasscom said.

In the 30-day period ending September 28, there were over 652,000 active job vacancy postings advertised online for jobs in computer occupations: up from 625,000 vacancies in the 30-day period ending May, 13. That is, despite high degree of overall unemployment in US, demand for high-tech skills continues to remain robust – clearly endorsing the argument that there are just not enough workers with relevant skills to fill them.

“The new rules announced will worsen this talent gap by making it more difficult for US employers to hire foreign workers,” Nasscom added.

Published on October 07, 2020

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