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The Journey of H1B Visas: Are You Also Stuck Somewhere In Between?

Since the oath taking ceremony of American President Mr Donald Trump, there are many things that are making news; whether it is hanging up on Australian Prime Minister Mr Malcolm Turnbull, banning immigrations from seven Muslim-majority countries, or re-modulating the H1B Visa policies. There is a wide spectrum of news that Mr Trump generates with every passing day. Some of those maybe wrong too. But one thing can be said with utmost accuracy and that is that Donald Trump is working forth to fulfil all the promises that he made in the presidential election campaign.

The entire Information Technology (IT) market is traumatised by the policies put forward by Mr Trump that resulted in several weighty occurrences. Uber Technologies Inc. chief executive officer (CEO) Travis Kalanick stepped down from President Donald Trump’s business advisory council. Protests broke out at the John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City as immigrants, including US green card holders, were detained following harsh restrictions on travellers from several Muslim-majority countries. Around 100 companies, including some of the high-tech’s biggest enterprises, such as Apple Inc. and Google Inc. joined a legal brief opposing President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, arguing that it would give companies incentives to move jobs outside the United States. Right now, even Donald Trump doesn’t know what hullabaloo he can lead unknowingly.


However, the main concern for the Indians is the availability and applicability of H1B Visas. As per the reports, President Trump and his advisory board are looking forward to a new way of providing the H1B Visas to the ‘best’ and ‘brightest’. To start at the beginning, let us see what H1B Visa actually is.

H1B Visa allows companies to employ foreign workers in the U.S in the speciality vocation or as fashion models (H1B3). The annual cap for the H1B Visa is 85,000 where the selection of the Visas is done on a lottery basis since its inception (in 1990s). As the companies can get the human resource at a much cheaper rate outside U.S, they usually prefer getting their employees (specifically those on higher posts) transferred. This process corollary leads to less availability of jobs for U.S citizens, who are equally skilled and qualified. Thus, Trump’s administration is looking for ways to distribute H-1b visas not based on lottery system but based on ‘merit’.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which administers immigration, is responsible to consider ways that make the process for apportioning H-1B visas more efficient and ensure that beneficiaries of the program are the best and the brightest. The advisory board set up by Trump is planning to monitor the H1B visa on a fresh basis, where the first 20,000 petitions are filed on behalf of U.S Masters’ degree or higher educational qualifications. Within 90 days DHS will review all regulations that allow foreign nationals to work in the United States, decide which of those guidelines violate the immigration laws or are otherwise not in the national interest and should be cancelled, and propose for notice and comment a rule to cancel or modify such regulations. It has not been decided yet by the Trump Administration that the annual whether the aspiring changes will affect the upcoming April 1 lottery. As it stands, Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B visas will be distributed by random lottery, not by any priority or merit-based system.

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