US tightens H1-B Visa conditions
Changes to visa program likely to restrict hiring of foreign IT workers in the US
The United States has tightened conditions for issuance of the H1-B visa, in a move likely to restrict the number of foreign tech workers entering the country.
Several US authorities have also issued statements related complaints about H1-B visa abuse, which are seen as indicators that visa program will be further restricted.
A memo issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that entry-level computer programming positions can no longer be considered as ‘speciality occupations', a basic requirement for the H1-B visa.
The H1-B visa program was set up to allow US companies to hire, on a temporary basis, foreign workers to fill demand for ‘speciality occupations'. The program has been used extensively by non-US outsourcing companies to supply IT workers to the US, leading to complaints from some quarters that H1-B was used to replace skilled US workers with cheaper foreign workers.
Some estimates suggest that between 40-60% of all Labour Condition Applications (LCA) filed last as part of the H1-B process, were for entry-level positions.
The US Department of Justice and Department of Labor have also issued new guidelines on how to complain about H1-B abuse, coinciding with the start of H1-B visa applications for the next financial year.
The Justice Department warned against discrimination against US employees, while the Labor department promised that it would actively investigate complaints. The Labor department also announced that it change the conditions of the LCA, so that they were more transparent, and provider greater disclosure of where H1-B visa workers are employed.