US Govt Urged To Cancel H1B Visa For Engineers; Relax Rules For Doctors, Nurses
Four US Senators have urged President Donald Trump to suspend all non-immigrant work permits for at least a year or till employment levels return to normal.
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What is the Fuss About?
Along with suspension of work permits, they have also asked for the suspension of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme. This lets foreign students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) work in the United States for up to 3 years after graduating.
In 2019, over 2,23,000 people had their OPTs approved or extended.
They have also appealed for the suspension of the EB-5 investor visa program.
The senators have also asked Trump to suspend all new guest-worker visas for a period of 60 days and further suspend certain visa categories till unemployment reaches normal levels.
Why Have the Senators Put Forth Such An Appeal?
About a one-fifth of the country’s total workforce that is around 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last 7 weeks as the pandemic brought the country’s economy to its knees. In February, unemployment in the US was at an all-time low of 3.5%.
Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Charles E Grassly and Tom Cotton wrote in a letter to Trump on May 7, “These suspensions are critical to protecting American workers as our economy gets back on its feet.”
The letter argues that when the local unemployment rate is so high, it’s unjustifiable to let in close to a million guest workers into the US each year.
The Senators want rules to be eased to allow more doctors and nurses to come in to bridge a shortage of health professionals in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
How Will this Affect the Indians Staying in the US?
The IT outsourcing industry is the biggest beneficiary of the H-1B visa by far. Many IT professionals are citizens, green card holders and to-be-green card holders. Majority of the H-1B visa holders come from this industry.
Indian nationals account for two-thirds of the H1-B visas every year. There are more than 5,00,000 H-1B visa holders in the US and thousands working in the IT industry.
If Trump accepts the proposal, Indian tech workers will receive a massive hit.
Stopping the inflow of new H-1B visa holders would help protect those who are already in the US on such visas and their families in case they lose their jobs, the letter pointed out.
In the event of losing a job, H1-B visa holders have to leave the country within 60 days.
With many companies offering pink slips and the probability of this proposal’s acceptance, thousands of Indians will be forced to return to the country.