H-1B Visa Restrictions Rattle Indian Businesses and Tech Companies

By Peek & Toland on March 31, 2017

The effects of likely H-1B visa restrictions in the United States are being felt in India which supplies the largest number of skilled overseas workers under the program.

News that legislation affecting H-1B visas was introduced into the House of Representatives led Indian IT stocks to fall in late January. In March, the U.S. government ended a program allowing H-1B visas to be expedited.

The bill would force firms which take on workers on H-1B visas to double the minimum salary to prevent U.S. workers being undercut to $100,000. An article in First Post stated Indian tech workers fear far fewer companies in the United States will seek skilled foreign workers if the bill becomes law.

Indian workers are alarmed by H1-B visa restrictions

H-1B visa restrictions alarm India

Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, introduced the bill that he said was intended to punish outsourcing companies.

Any company paying H-1B workers less than $100,000 would be required to show it couldn’t hire Americans for the same jobs.

There’s a similar requirement under existing law but the threshold is $60,000, a figure established in 1998 that exempts foreign workers with master’s degrees. Issa’s bill would remove that exemption.

Another bill introduced in the Senate would eliminate the lottery system for H-1B visas and give U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the task of setting up a “preference system” enabling foreign students educated in the U.S. to get priority on visas. This bill is also aimed at preventing companies using the visa system to “outsource” jobs, reported CNN.

The Trump Administration Considers H-1B Visa Restrictions

The Trump administration has also made clear its willingness to change the H-1B visa program in a way that’s likely to restrict it.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Trump is considering changes to the scope of the program.

Potential H-1B visa restrictions have alarmed many companies including technology giants and the biotech industry.

A Bloomberg article made it clear companies of all sizes that sustain the $324 billion U.S. biotech industry are alarmed by the immigration clampdown.

These companies rely on the world’s best scientists as well as researchers.

A crackdown on H-1B visas for these workers may set back important research including cancer treatment, according to executives.

Trump’s immigration travel ban may also affect expertise from overseas in the biotech industry.  Hospitals and universities are also likely to be affected. The ban to restrict travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries was blocked by the courts in February. The Trump administration is reported to be working on a narrower ban.

If you are concerned about H-1B visa restrictions, it’s important to get your application ready.

On April 1, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting H1B cap-subject case filings for fiscal year 2018.

We can help you be ready for visa cap season. Call our Texas immigration lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

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H-1B Visas Hike Has Not Hit Level of Requests

By Peek & Toland on August 22, 2016

India is one of the leading pools of overseas labor for U.S. companies that seek to bring skilled workers here on H-1B visas.

However, the Indian IT industry recently raised concerns about a recent hike in the H-1B visa fee.

An increase in the fees for certain for certain H-1B and L-1 petitioners was enacted in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 signed into law by President Obama last December. These petitioners have to submit an extra fee of $4,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $4,500 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions that were submitted post-December 18, 2015.

These additional fees apply to U.S. petitioners with 50 or more employees if more than 50 percent of those workers hold H-1B or L nonimmigrant status. Further details are provided here by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The Economic Times, an Indian publication, noted the hike had raised fears in the Indian IT sector that fewer U.S. employers would want to hire skilled Indian workers.

Joseph M Pomper, Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy, recently said this doubling of the fee had not dampened interest in the visas.

Hike in H1-B Visa Cost Has Not Deterred applicants

India has a massive outsourcing industry. The hike in visas is expected to tax it to the tune of about $400 million.

As well as the increase in the cost of H-1B visas, the fee for certain L1 visas, which are used for intra-company transfers, was raised to $4,500.

The scramble for visas this year suggested the hike has had little effect. Pomper said about 70 percent of all H-1B visas and 30 percent of L1 visas go to Indian companies. He said in the interview.

“The fact that more Indians happen to use that visa category is why they feel it more. It has not impacted H-1B or L1 applications at all.”

We note on our website that demand for these specialty occupation visas is growing all the time and demand outstrips supply. The statutory cap for the financial year 2017 was reached in just under a week in April.

We set out what you will need to do if you are applying for an H-1B visa here in this blog.

At Peek & Toland , we are familiar with the high competition for these skilled worker visas and all of the detailed requirements that you will need to complete. We can help you or your company to avoid the pitfalls. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 for a consultation.

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