New H-1B visa bill proposes to make hiring foreign workers, students difficult for US cos

Washington DC: A new bill, the American Tech Workforce Act of 2021, tabled in the US House of Representatives by Republican Congressman Jim Banks, proposes tougher H-1B visa norms making it difficult for American companies to hire foreigners and students.

The H-1B visa, the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

The bill seeks to eliminate Optional Practical Training (OPT), a procedure that allows those on student visas to be employed in the United States for up to three years if they are from the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) discipline. The bill also proposes to bring down the period of H-1B visas sponsored by third-party companies from three years to just one year.

The other provisions of the bill include introducing a wage floor compensation for H-1B visa recipients. This wage floor compensation will be equal to the higher end of the annual wage paid to an American worker for the position or the US $1,10,000, whichever is higher.

The bill has been introduced as part of the Republican Study Committee to bring “accountability of big tech companies”. According to political observers, the bill carries forward the legacy of former US President Donald Trump, who advocated laws that make it tougher for American companies to hire foreign workers.

In an official statement, Jim Banks said, “Big Tech is setting aside some of the most lucrative and valuable career opportunities in America and giving them exclusively to foreign guest workers. They’re cutting out Americans to save a few bucks. It’s domestic outsourcing.”

If the bill is approved by the House, it will then be moved to the Senate for clearance.

Image courtesy of (Photo: The New Indian Express)

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