A policy tweak being considered by President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security could result in huge implications for hundreds of thousands of Indian immigrants in the United States.
A change to the H-1B visa rules is one proposal the Trump administration is considering. Such visas are used by companies to “employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise,” according to workpermit.com.
The visas can last for up to six years — an initial three years, followed by an extension of another three years — during which time visa holders can apply for permanent citizenship as well.
But an alteration is being considered internally within a DHS memo that would change which employers would fit the category of being allowed to hire workers using H-1B visas. The proposal would also require the company to prove that the employee coming from another country wouldn’t be displacing another worker for five to six years.
Proving as much could be difficult for many companies to accomplish and could result in many of them no longer hiring new workers or opting to renew H-1B visas for current employees. If implemented, as many as 500,000 to 750,000 Indians who are H-1B visa holders could be sent packing in the next few years.
It isn’t clear why the Trump administration is choosing to target these workers in particular, but it’s plain to see that the anti-immigration policies of this president are set to hurt many workers in the United States.
It’s similarly unclear whether the number of jobs these workers would leave behind could be filled up by the American non-immigrant workforce alone. Indeed, H-1B workers account for tens of billions of dollars in the U.S. economy, and these workers’ departures could significantly disrupt that.
Trump and his conservative allies once proposed a merit-based immigration system in place of what we have currently. While that system would carry with it its own set of flaws, amending the H-1B visa program in the way proposed above would run counter to the argument made by Trump that we want highly-skilled immigrants to come to America.
It doesn’t seem that the criterion matters at all — it’s more likely that Trump just wants to greatly curtail immigration for non-white, non-European applicants around the globe, for what seem to be reasons rooted in bigotry more than genuine concern for the American worker.