White House plans to tighten the screws on H-1B visa

The White House is reportedly ready with an executive order targeting guest worker visa programs that allows the movement of skilled workers to the U.S., which is used extensively by Indian IT companies. The U.S government issues 85,000 H-1B category of guest worker visas every year through a lottery system, and this year’s process kicks off on April 1.

According to a draft copy of the executive order published by Vox, a new executive order will also restrict the Optional Practical Training (OPT) work, a job training opportunity available for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Masters from a U.S university. Spouses of H-1B visa holders could lose their permit to work, which was granted by the previous Obama administration, the Vox report said, but this part is unclear in the draft.

The lottery system could be replaced with a new method of selection that will allow only the “the best and the brightest” as beneficiaries of the programme. The new executive order also envisages an inspector raj in which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be required to carry out “site visits” at places where guest workers with L-1 visas are employed. Within a period of two years, the DHS will expand such inspections to all sites where guest workers are employed. L-1 visas are used for intra company transfers.

It also requires the DHS to “improve monitoring of foreign students” in the U.S. The document titled “Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs” was one of the six documents that Vox received from a source. The outlet did not publish the documents until two them turned out to be authentic. Since publication last week, a third one also turned out to be authentic the one on restricting travel from Muslim majority countries.
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The standard duration of OPT is one year, but with extensions allowed by consecutive administrations it can now extend up to three years for STEM Masters. The Obama administration allowed the last extension in May 2016.

Courtesy : http://www.thehindu.com

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