'America is the land of opportunity,' goes a famous saying.
The 'opportunity' America gives to anyone and everyone is the chance to succeed. The people who take this opportunity? Immigrants.
US President Donald Trump has instructed his administration to "reform" the H-1B visa system and shift towards merit-based immigration, White House officials said.
"Moving to a merit-based immigration system," the White House said in a statement after Trump announced the temporary suspension of H1-B and other visas till the end of 2020. The statement went on to say that the Trump administration would reform the system to prioritise skilled workers and protect American jobs.
In the said reforms, the H-1B programme will give priority to workers who are being given the highest wage, making certain that only skilled applicants are admitted.
Under the said reforms, the H-1B programme is going to prioritise those workers who are offered the highest wages as the best proxy for what they bring to the table to add to the American economy, an official was quoted saying.
But who will the new H-1B visa programme affect? The bottom line: a wide range of workers, from au pairs to software engineers, will be blocked from coming to the US at least until January. And those restrictions could be extended.
There are some exceptions. Among them, the proclamation says officials will come up with standards to let in people treating Covid-19 patients or conducting research to help the US combat the pandemic.
According to USCIS, the H-1B visa category covers individuals who "work in a speciality occupation, engage in cooperative research and development projects administered by the U.S. Department of Defense, or are fashion models that have national or international acclaim and recognition."
The H-1B is most well known as a visa for skilled tech workers, but workers in other industries, like health care and the media, have also been known to use these visas.
While it may not be possible to determine exactly which visas some of America's top Silicon valley leaders went to the country by, it's obvious that most of the ones at the top are immigrants, who at some point availed a 'temporary' visa to move here.
Here are some of the Indian links.
Sundar Pichai, Google, Alphabet CEO: Pichai is originally from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. He initially moved to the US on a student visa - on his admission to Stanford.
In a recent YouTube address, he spoke about how his plane ticket to the U.S was a year worth of his dad's salary, and it was his first time on a flight.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, was also born in India, in Hyderabad, and also moved to attend college in the USA, in the late 1980's. He too, initially went to USA on a student visa.
Indra Nooyi, the former was the former CEO of Pepsico, was born and raised in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India and moved to the USA in 1980, also on a temporary student visa for higher education.
Ajaypal Singh Banga, the CEO of Mastercard, was also born and raised in India, and completed education in India itself. Banga initially worked in India, and the moved to the US in 2002, when he took over CitiFinancial's retail bank in North America. He moved around the world, and then in 2009, returned to the USA and joined Mastercard, again without a permanent residency visa.
But it's not just Indians, immigrants from everywhere have pretty much shaped up the US economy.
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is the son of an undocumented immigrant in America. Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox, was raised in America by a single mother, who too, was an immigrant. Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of HuffPost, also moved to the USA on a temporary visa before her permanent residency.
Donald Trump's own wife, Melania Trump, moved to the USA on a H-1B work visa.
Donald Trump's visa limits skilled workers, which affects the IT crowd in India from moving to the US. But the entire point of stopping a particular visa, whether for a pandemic or economic reasons is something which reeks of privilege and irony in the US.
For a country regulated by people who themselves come from a long line of immigrants who moved for 'better opportunities' to the States, for a better life, they too were immigrants. If visas were regulated all the way back when ships from England sailed to America, maybe even Trump would have never made it there.