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Executive Orders for H-1B Visas: Based on Misperceptions and Misinformation

U.S. President Trump on Monday signed an executive order asking federal agencies to hire Americans, and preventing them from contracting or subcontracting foreign workers, mainly those with H-1B visas.

Industry body Nasscom on Tuesday said the U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order against hiring H-1B visa holders for federal contracts “appears to have been made based on misperceptions and misinformation“.


In a statement, Nasscom said that as the world opens up post coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-induced lockdowns, it is important for the U.S. to be able to access talent critical to the recovery phase.


Measures that restrict access to talent will slowdown the recovery phase of the U.S. economy, jobs, innovation, and research and development, it cautioned.


U.S. President Trump on Monday signed an executive order asking federal agencies to hire Americans, and preventing them from contracting or subcontracting foreign workers, mainly those with H-1B visas.


The move is expected to be a setback to Indian IT professionals eyeing the U.S. job market. Earlier on June 23, the Trump administration had suspended H-1B visas along with other types of foreign work visas until the end of 2020 to protect American workers in the crucial election year.


The H-1B visa, most sought-after among Indian techies, is a non-immigrant visa that allows the U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.


“President Trump’s executive order on ‘Aligning Federal Contracting and Hiring Practices with the Interests of American Workers’ appears to have been made based on misperceptions and misinformation,” Nasscom said.


A part of the executive order focusses on federal contracting, and part of the order focusses on the H-1B visa programme in general, it said.


“Both elements of the Executive Order mandate reviews, reports, and development of policy and practice and recommendations rather than mandating any immediate changes,” it added.


Nasscom noted that the order comes at a time when there is a “huge shortage” of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills in the U.S., that workers on short-term non-immigrant visas such as H-1B and L-1 help bridge.


The industry association pointed out that unemployment rate for computer occupations (those most common amongst H-1B visa holders) declined from 3% in January 2020 to 2.5% in May 2020.


Against this, unemployment rate for all other occupations grew from 4.1% in January 2020 to 13.5% in May 2020.


“Further, in the 30-day period ending 13 May 2020, there were over 6,25,000 active job vacancy postings advertised online for jobs in common computer occupations, including those most common to H-1B visa holders,” Nasscom said.


The executive order requires all federal agencies to complete an internal audit within 120 days and assess whether they are in compliance with the requirement that only U.S. citizens and nationals are appointed to the competitive service.


(PTI)


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