IT industry body Nasscom on Friday said it will file comments in support of the delay in implementation of Trump-era rule on H-1B visa allocation policy until December 31. The Biden administration has postponed the date till the end of the year to give the immigration agency more time to develop, test and implement modifications to the registration system. In January, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had announced doing away with the traditional lottery system in deciding the successful applicants for the H-1B visas.
"Nasscom welcomes this announcement by DHS including undertaking a detailed review of the rule. Rather than follow the clear language and intent of the statute, the agency had sought to move from the existing selection process for H-1B visas," the industry body said in a statement. It added that prioritising purely on wage levels has the potential to "significantly damage" some of the most innovative companies in the world along with many hospitals and health care providers, research facilities, universities and other petitioners.
"We believe it is important for the US to be able to access talent critical to the COVID recovery phase. "While Nasscom member companies have increased local hiring and focus their efforts on local STEM skills development, the visa program bridges a critical skills gap, enabling America to become more competitive globally," Nasscom said.
It added that the industry body, which represents the over USD 190-billion Indian IT-BPM sector, will be filing comments in support of the delay and looks forward to sharing its views with DHS as it reviews the rule as a whole. Nasscom's members include large players like Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys as well as start-ups.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China. The USCIS had said it would prioritise wages to protect the economic interests of American workers, and better ensure that the most highly skilled foreign workers benefit from the temporary employment programme. The Trump-era rule was scheduled to go into effect on March 9.
The USCIS can issue a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas in a year. It can also issue another 20,000 H-1B visas to foreign students who have completed higher studies from a US university in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. During the delay, DHS will review the rule as a whole for potential changes or rescinding it. The notice is to be published in the Federal Register on February 8, 2021. Comments on the proposed delay will be accepted for 30 days post-publication.
This follows an announcement by the US Department of Labor earlier this week to delay the effective date of the final rule affecting wages for H-1B workers to May 14, 2021.