Reacting to the new restrictions on the H-1B visa programme by the US, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) on Wednesday said the changes announced will restrict access to talent and will harm the American economy.
The industry association added that this will also “endanger U.S. jobs, put U.S. interests at risk, slowing down R&D into solutions to the COVID crisis,” while reiterate that it is important for the US market to be able to access skilled talent for its businesses, especially during the COVID-19 recovery phase.
The new rules notified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Labor (DoL) for the H-1B visa regime, changes the definitions of specialty occupation, employer, & employee-employer relationship, and limits the validity of an H-1B visa to one year for a worker placed at a third-party worksite, while also increasing enforcement and investigations for these visas.
“The new rules also changes the current four-tiered prevailing wage system for jobs that U.S. employers seek to fill with foreign workers. Both rules will be issued as Interim Final Rules (IFRs), without any notice period or right to comment,” Nasscom noted.
It added that these regulations seem to be based on misinformation about the programme and runs counter-productive to their very objective of saving the American economy and jobs. “This is particularly relevant at a time when U.S. businesses continue to face a huge deficit of STEM skills: overall U.S. unemployment rate grew from 4.1% in Jan-2020 to 8.4% in August-2020; while unemployment in computer occupations declined from 3% to 2.5% in this period.”
In the 30-day period ending September 28, 2020, there were over 652,000 active job vacancy postings advertised online for jobs in computer occupations, up from 625,000 vacancies in the 30-day period ending May 13, 2020. “That is, despite the high degree of overall unemployment in the US, demand for high-tech skills continues to remain robust – clearly endorsing the argument that there are just not enough workers with relevant skills to fill them. The new rules announced will worsen this talent gap by making it more difficult for U.S. employers to hire foreign workers,” it said.