In a major setback for Indian IT firms and professionals, US President-elect Donald Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Srssions has promised to take strict steps that will reduce the misuse of H1B and L1 visas. These types of visas are popularly used by the Indian IT professionals who are active in United States and if a legal step is taken, it will directly affect India’s IT sector as well. Trump has made tougher immigration policy a central theme since the day he announced he would run for president. However Trump, in his press conference yesterday, did not make any announcements on potentially tougher visa rules for software services exporters.
“It’s simply wrong to think that we’re in a totally open world and that any American with a job can be replaced if somebody in the world is willing to take a job for less pay,” Senator Jeff Sessions told members of Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing for the position of US Attorney General.
“We have borders. We have a commitment to our citizens and you have been a champion of that. I’ve been honoured to work with you on it,” Sessions said in response to a question from Senator Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the past, both Sessions and Grassley have worked together to bring legislations on H-1B visas that badly hit Indian IT companies.
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While speaking to the Senate judiciary committee, Jeff Sessions stated that any American can be replaced in the country if another person is ready to take up his job for less pay. Reducing unemployment and solving the problem of immigrants in United States is on top of the agenda for Donald trump and team but skilled-foreign workers may end up paying a heavy price for it.
Many US workers advocate that the layoff of American workers and the replacement by cheaper, foreign, H-1B workers constitutes de facto nationality based discrimination against American workers,” Grassley said.
“The Obama administration has failed to protect American workers here. Will you, this is my question, will you be more aggressive in investigating the abuses of these visa programmes?” he asked.
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Describing Sessions as a vocal champion for American workers, Grassley said many American workers are being laid off and replaced by cheaper foreign labour imported through some of the US visa programmes.
Sessions, Grassley and Senator Dick Durbin in the past had co-sponsored a bill that would reform H-1B visa programmes by ensuring that qualified American workers are considered for high skilled job opportunities before those jobs can be offered to foreign nationals.
“It also prohibit a company from hiring H-1B employees if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50 per cent of their employees are H-1B or L-1 visa holders,” he said.
In the past Trump has been accused of having a hypocritical approach on the entire issue as his own company has hired many foreign workers in the past. Despite this he maintained an extreme stand over the issue of immigration in the country. However, if the new government decides to pass new laws over the sanctioning of H1B and L1 visas, it could cause trouble for Indians who desire move to United States in search of better education and work opportunities.