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Should you be worried about Trump’s attack on H-1B?

Why is Trump after H-1Bs?

Trump has political pressure to get back jobs for Americans – can act upon that. This has been worsened by Disney’s lawsuit where an American employee who was laid off sued that tech companies are not hiring foreigners on H-1B because they cannot find that talent in US but they are hiring them because of low wages.

H-1Bs are the most coveted work visas: In 2016, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that they received 2,36,000 H-1B petitions within five days of opening the process, more than thrice the number of mandated cap of 65,000 in the general category.

What are the proposed changes to H-1B visa norms?

As per HindustanTimes, following changes has been suggested in recent bills-

  1. Doubling minimum salaries of H-1B visa holders to $130,000
  2. Earmark 20% of H-1B visas for small and start-up employers
  3. Remove ‘per country’ cap for employment visas to ensure equal distribution
  4. Firms hiring H-1B visa holders need to make a “good faith” effort to recruit Americans first
  5. Give preference to students educated in the US for H-1B visas rather than computerized lottery system
  6. Crack down on outsourcing companies that import workers for temporary training and then send them back home to do the same job
  7. Prohibit spouses of H-1B visa holders from working in the US
  8. Prohibit companies with more than 50 employees, of which at least half are H-1B or L-1 holders, from hiring additional H-1B employees
  9. Strict audit and vetting by Department of Labor to clamp down on fraud or misuse

Should international students be worried?

There has been hue and cry over H-1Bs in the past as well but anti H-1B laws never passed. In fact, OPT 24 months extension was a big boost for international students. But it does not mean that the new law cannot pass. H-1B for international students on F1 is a different case from people getting H-1B via TCS/Infy etc (as is evident from some of the proposed reforms above). That said, what can hurt international students-

1. raising of minimum H-1B wages significantly. This directly impacts recruiting.

2. removing OPT extension.

Making it too tough will definitely antagonize Tech industry which itself is a non-trivial lobby. However, it may take some time before we see the opposition able to make a significant impact or pressurize Trump in the opposite direction. I am more worried short term than long term.

In summary, I am not saying that things are all hunky dory and there is nothing to worry but unless this law gets passed, it doesn’t matter. Just like his ban on 7 nations is still in a state of confusion (with federal court ruling against his ban but executive order still prevailing) – things are murky. Let’s wait and watch. So, please be patient.

What I have heard about campus placements so far?

1. UMCP MIS has seen decline in companies sponsoring H-1Bs

2. A student seeing a decline in campus placements and H-1B sponsorships at NCSU.

3. Another student was more neutral about her MSBA program at ASU. She will inform once the fulltime recruitment begins this semester.

4. A student who recently graduated and is on OPT has not reported any negative news in his company yet.

5. A Harvard CS student is less fearful – ‘I’ve had emails this week from 3 different companies asking me if I’m interested in full-time positions starting after spring. It will definitely have some negative impact, but if you’re good and try hard enough, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find a job.’

6. One ECE student from TAMU – ‘During career fair last week most of the companies were particularly asking about sponsorship requirement which I haven’t heard that much during the career fairs conducted last semester.’

I will keep you updated on what I get to know – I am not taking sides yet but bracing up for a tough ride if Trump goes rogue 🙂

This post was originally posted on our Fb group for MS internships and jobs.

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