No change in H-1B “tech” visas is good news for India. Not so much for American workers.
Though President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April to stop “visa abuses” in the skilled-worker program, U.S. officials maintain that it’s business as usual.
“The program is going on as it was. In fact, we have issued more H-1B visas to Indians this year than we did last year,” a U.S. official assured the Indian news outlet NDTV.
Indian workers were awarded roughly 70 percent of the H-1Bs over the past nine months, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
For 2017, USCIS received more than 336,000 petitions for H-1B visas. Via lottery, the agency approved 197,129 applications, including extensions.
The lottery benefits outsourcing firms like TCS and Infosys that flood the system with mass applications for visas for lower-paid information technology workers, largely from India. The Indian “body shops” siphon jobs from Americans, suppress wages and effectively deter U.S. citizens from being trained in tech-related fields.
India’s software industry, a $150 billion-a-year business, depends on the tech visa program to place tens of thousands of programmers and IT staffers annually at stateside operations.
Trump has ordered a review of the H-1B program, suggesting it should focus on the highest-paying, highest-skilled jobs, rather than deciding recipients on the basis of a random lottery. A committee tasked to recommend reforms has been given no deadline.
Immigration lawyers complain that USCIS is requiring more documentation from H-1B applicants. The agency says it has received numerous fraud tips since rolling out its new tip line, but none of the anecdotal cases cited by the immigration attorneys involved Indian tech workers.
Clearly, Trump’s actions fall short of real reform. The flawed, loophole-ridden H-1B program that enables displacement and wage depression of American workers was created by Congress and must be fixed by Congress.