Nearshore Americas

US Congress Delays Renewing Fee On H-1B Visa

The US congress does not seem to have made any decision on renewing a legislation that calls for imposing a $2,000 fee on H-1B visa holders working in the United States. The fee expires on Thursday this week.

Some analysts say the Congress can act on the fee later even though it missed the 1 October deadline. The fee imposed on the visa helps fund border security operation.

This temporary visa program has recently been a political hot potato in the US, with several American firms being accused of using the visa to send jobs overseas. Indian firms, which are the main beneficiaries of the visa program, have continued to deny that they are helping American firms cut cost by replacing American employees with cost-effective Indian workers.

Recently, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump proposed to raise the minimum wage for H-1B visa holders to dissuade American firms from hiring them. The fee was adopted in 2010 following a recommendation from the Senate immigration subcommittee chaired by Chuck Schumer.

So far, Southern California Edison, Walt Disney and Toys “R” Us have been accused of using the visa to eliminate American jobs.

“It’s not clear why lawmakers aren’t acting on the fee — or even talking about it. Lawmakers contacted, including Schumer, have not responded to requests for comment. Even if Congress lets the Oct. 1 date slip, legislators could still act later,” reported ComputerWorld in an article.

US technology firms have often argued that they have no option but to hire foreign workers and that there is a lack of skilled technology professionals in America. But some US groups doubt this argument and are of the belief that US companies hire Indian professionals to cut costs.

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A H-1B visa holder can work in the US for only six years. According to reports, some American firms employ these visa holders to train them into the job their American collogues are currently performing. Once they are trained, the company sends the job overseas, laying off American employees.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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