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Tags Current Affairs

New H-1B visa rules

Date: 11 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The US administration has once again amended the H-1B visa norms by changing the rules to give priority to higher wages and skills for selection of deserving candidates.

 

Background

The H-1B visas have a significant effect on countries exporting foreign workers and skills such as India and China.

 

Details

  • In 1952, after the US started expanding its presence in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, it felt the need to hire quality workers. This need to hire workers paved way for the introduction of the H-1 work visa system.

  • This work visa system was further subdivided into H-1B, H-2B, L1, O1, and E1 visas, depending on the qualification required and the area for which workers were sought. Of these, the H-1B visa remains the most popular due to the relatively better wage chance it offers.

  • The arrival of internet and low-cost computers in homes and universities of developing nations saw a large number of students graduating in disciplines related to computer science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

  • Lack of jobs in their home countries, on the other hand, meant that the STEM graduates were willing to work in the US at relatively low costs, which proved to be a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.

  • The H-1B work visa system has since undergone many changes and revisions to allow or disallow certain categories of skilled workers in the US, depending on the economic situation of the country.

Current H-1B rules

  • Every year the US administration issues 85,000 H-1B work permits. Of these, 65,000 are for people with specialty occupations, while the rest are reserved for foreign workers who have earned a Master’s or a higher university degree in the US.

  • Each employer who seeks to employ a worker on H-1B visa must fill out a registration form on behalf of the employee who they wish to employ.

  • The form contains all the details of the employee, such as the nature of work they will undertake in the US, the wage being offered to them, the level of education of these workers and so on.

  • Since the number of applications for H-1B visas filed each year exceeded the cap, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services then employed a random lottery selection of the eligible applicants.

New regime

  • The new wage-based work visa regime will now give priority in selection of visas to applications of those employers where the “proffered wage equals or exceeds” the prevailing level in that area of employment. 

  • This regime will also take into account the skill set that the respective worker brings to the country and cross check it whether such skill set is available at the same cost among the US workers.

  • Since it is not possible to individually judge the skill set of all the applicants to the H-1B work visa regime, salaries are the best indicators of the same as employers would pay high wages only to the most deserving candidates.

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