Centre to flag H1-B visa curbs

Background: India-US relations, H1-B visa programme, Issa Bill, US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF), US-India Business Council, World Trade Organisation (WTO).

  • India is likely to raise its concerns in an upcoming meeting with the US, over a proposed legislation seeking to impose greater costs on firms that temporarily hire highly skilled foreign workers.
  • The development comes in the backdrop of the US Presidential election campaign where claims of local unemployment due to immigration and outsourcing have become a topic of debate.
  • During the forthcoming US-India Trade Policy Forum meet, India is expected to take up the Indian IT industry’s concerns about the proposed Protect and Grow American Jobs Act that was introduced in US House of Representatives in July.
  • The proposed legislation is also called the Issa Bill as the bipartisan legislation was introduced by US Congressman Darrell Issa, aiming to stop the outsourcing of American jobs by companies abusing the H1-B visa program.
  • The House Judiciary Committee is to vote on the Bill that is being opposed by the Indian IT sector (the main users of H1-B visas), the apex IT industry body Nasscom and the US-India Business Council (an advocacy body for boosting US-India business ties).
  • India had in March said it had initiated a WTO dispute proceeding against the US for increasing fees on H1-B and L-1 non-immigrant visas.
  • The current H1-B norms under the US Immigration and Nationality Act require H1-B dependent companies (those with over 50 full-time equivalent employees of which 15 percent or more are on H1-B visas) to submit certain documents.
  • The Issa Bill aims to do away with the Master’s degree exemption and hike the minimum annual salary threshold from $60,000 to $100,000 with an inflation adjustment. The new Bill seeks to make it much harder for firms to bring in workers at a salary that could undercut American jobs.

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