Bill would raise minimum salary for H-1B holders

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 19, 2017

A key Congressional committee has passed a legislation that proposes to increase the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders from $6,00,000 to $90,000 and imposes a number of restrictions on the work visa that is popular among Indian IT professionals.

Introduced in January by Republican California Rep. Darrell Issa, the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act seeks to make it more hard for "H-1B dependent" companies to obtain work permits.

A bill focused on "H-1B dependent" companies passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning - another step toward the Trump administration's promises to curtail a foreign worker program it says is rife with loopholes and threatens American jobs. Given the sharp differences that the Democratic and Republcian lawmakers and the White House has on various aspects of immigration reform including H-1B, the Congressional passage of the Bill and its becoming a law as of now appears to be a tall order.

Other clauses of the bill that could hit Indian companies include one that require some H-1B employers to give an undertaking that they will not displace a USA worker during their entire employment, and not just 90 days before and after the filing of an H-1B petition.

The H-1B work visas, essentially, allow highly skilled foreign workers to travel to the US, and have been at the centre of a storm since US President Donald Trump's presidential campaign a year ago.

Issa's Bill is among several that have been moved in recent months given Trump's avowed commitment to bring back businesses and jobs to the US.

NASSCOM president R Chandrashekhar in a statement said that HR 170, as adopted by House Judiciary Committee, would harm U.S. businesses and impose an extraordinary amount of bureaucratic red tape on a programme that contributes greatly to USA prosperity.

"Unfortunately, this legislation is being driven by myths, not reality, and could harm United States businesses, imposing an extraordinary amount of bureaucratic red tape, disrupting the marketplace, threaten USA jobs, and stifle U.S. innovation by unfairly and arbitrarily targeting a handful of companies", said Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar.

"Almost everything in the bill just targets H-1B dependent companies", Harrison said.

The House Judiciary Committee just took a step toward toughening the rules for H1-B visas. "Unfortunately, this legislation is being driven by myths, not reality. The data show that the high skill visa programmes are not a major cause of United States unemployment, and IT specialists working on temporary visas are not cheap labour", said Chandrashekhar.

There has also been an issue of India not being able to lobby the USA government enough on the issue of H-1B visas, which is still seen as a draconian programme that takes away American jobs. Employers who use the H-1B programme are highly regulated and scrutinized already, and NASSCOM member companies abide by all applicable laws and regulations.

"According to the U.S. government, the rate of compliance problems is very low, and the overwhelming majority of problems occur at American companies with fewer than 50 employees", he said. "We continue to support efforts to root out any fraud or abuse in the H-1B system", said Chandrashekhar.

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