Tuesday, 04 April 2017 07:12

H-1B visa changes likely to hit outsourcing firms Featured

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Outsourcing companies who hire lower-paid lower-level computer programmers appear to be targeted by new guidance on H-1B visas issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday.

The guidance says that computer programmers can no longer be presumed to be eligible for H-1B visas.

It will cover applications for H-1B visas that opened on Monday for the fiscal year 2018. The US issues about 85,000 H-1B visas every year.

After the election of Donald Trump as US president, there has been a great deal of speculation about changes to the H-1B visa regime.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa and allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in high-skilled occupations.

The new guidance will reserve H-1B visas for very high-skilled and higher-paid professionals, with low- and mid-level jobs presumably to go to American workers instead.

It means that firms which wish to obtain H-1B visas for programming positions will need to supply additional proof about the complexity of the task for which they need the H-1B workers.

In mid-March, there were hopes that the H-1B regime would not be touched, after White House press secretary Sean Spicer made only a general comment about the system when asked about possible changes.

“… obviously, whether it's H-1B visas or the other one — spousal visas — other areas of student visas, I think there is a natural desire to have a full look at – a comprehensive look at that,” Spicer said.

Among the groups most fearful of H-1B visa changes have been Indian outsourcing companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro and Satyam which are estimated to take up to 85% of the visas issued for IT-related jobs.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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