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Fearful amid attacks, visa changes, aspirational Indians rethink American dream

21 April 2017, 02:27 | Taylor George

Getty Images

Getty Images

Trump signed an executive order calling for a review of the H-1B visa program and sought increased scrutiny to prevent its abuse.

After touring an icon of Wisconsin manufacturing, Snap-on Tools, the president signed an executive order to review the H1-B visas.

The order he will sign on Tuesday will call for "the strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the United States of labor from overseas for the stated objective of creating higher wages and higher employment rates for workers in the United States", one of the senior officials said.

Bruce Morrison, who helped create the H-1B program and is now a lobbyist for tech-worker advocacy group IEEE-USA, said that the drop in applications reflects a shift in strategy rather than a true change in demand for the visas.

The White House said the programme undercuts American workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper foreign workers, which drives down U.S. wages.

"Instead, US businesses use the H-1B to gain access to the sought-after skills of foreign professionals, many of whom graduate from US universities, to complement the US workforce", she added.

Both Democratic and Republican critics have argued that companies such as Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and Southern California Edison Co (SCE_pe.A), a utility, have used the program to terminate in-house IT employees and replace them with cheaper contractors. The abolished visa programme will be replaced by a two-tier system - valid either for two or four years - of skilled temporary work permits.

Before we get into this, I want to be completely upfront with you about the sources I used for this story so you can trust what you're hearing is the real deal and not some slant or spin.

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"Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and that's wrong".

"The President's Tuesday order directs the federal bureaucracy to enforce visa law vigorously and study new ways to reform and restrict the H-1B system", reiterated Nasscom. Worldwide students are attracted to learn here in part by the prospect of working in the USA after graduation, so these policies could lead to diminished enrollment and ultimately cut into institutions' bottom lines from lost tuition.

Trump had passed the buck to the American bureaucracy to "make some legislative changes, as opposed to trying to force through the draconian measures that had been suggested during his campaign", said Fersht.

"Most employers that utilise the H-1B program do so legitimately because they need the skills and talent of a particular worker, and those who don't can be rooted out by the current anti-fraud provisions", Bernhard said.

HS-B1 visas, which were designed for highly skilled workers, are used by IT suppliers with customers in the United States to bring staff into the country.

According to Business Standard report, Indian firms over the past few years have reduced dependency on H-1B visas, while United States firms such as Accenture, IBM and Google have stepped up hiring engineers from India and send them on the coveted visa.

"To announce about to take bold new steps to follow through on my pledge to buy American and hire American", President Trump said.

According to a report released by Assocham, the Indian IT firms are bound to face disruptions by way of higher costs due to visa curbs.



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