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H1B good news for Indian students in US: special quota

h1b indian students

The H1B and L1 Visa Reform Act has brought relief for International and Indian students studying in USA. As introduced in House of Representatives and Senate, the act will require US Citizenship and Immigration Services to prioritize people educated in USA for the first time in the annual allocation of H-1B visas. This news came out on 23rd May 2020.

What’s good about this H1B reform act for Indian students?

The new system would ensure that the best and brightest students being educated in the United States receive preference for an H-1B visa, including advanced degree holders, those being paid a high wage, and those with valuable skills.

As of May 2020, H1-B lottery doesn’t differentiate between Indian applicants – whether they are students studying in USA or people employed in Indian companies. Trump often launched offensive on H1-B seekers. But as I pointed out before, his discontentment and attacks are truly meant to be not against people studying in USA but those who come from outsourcing companies and act as a cheap labor replacing American workers. Indian (International) students compete for highly paid jobs at companies like Apple and Facebook and are coveted in the tech industry.

Finally, few Senior Senators are looking into ways to differentiate between desirable H1-B seekers such as MS/PhD students and undesirable H1-B seekers from IT outsourcing companies.

In the Senate, it was introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin. In the House of Representatives, it was introduced by Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Paul Gosar, Ro Khanna, Frank Pallone and Lance Gooden.
The legislation reinstates Congress’s original intent in the H-1B and L-1 visa programmes by increasing enforcement, modifying wage requirements and securing protections for both American workers and visa holders, the lawmakers said.

IndianExpress reporting from PTI

What is interesting – these Senators come from both Republican and Democratic party. This strengthens the probability of it getting enacted.

What does it mean?

In long term, graduate students in US will get preferential treatment over Indian employees coming directly and trying to file for H-1B. This reduces the competition and bodes for better chances of procuring H-1Bs by the students.

More than anything, this is a strong message that USA doesn’t want to push away the very students who are studying in its hallowed universities, and whose education it is subsidizing through assistantships. It never made sense for US to invest in students and then tell them to leave the country before they could add to its GDP, contribute to its industries and status.

Many of the Silicon Valleys companies are run by Indians who went to study in USA. The govt is realizing that the whole anti-immigration narrative is hurting its desirability in the eyes of these talented students. While it wants to appease its homegrown workers, it also wants to retain these skilled students and let them create next unicorns on US soil.

Of course, this is still a proposal and you should keep an eye on the updates. However, this bodes well for applicants, graduate students and dreamers. If you dreamed of MS in USA, this bill is a gift.

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