US president Donald Trump was criticised by the Democratic Party for announcing “sweeping changes” to the H-1B visa programme without a public scrutiny with only less than 30 days left for the elections.
The department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday(6) announced the interim final rule, which Trump said is aimed at ‘protecting American workers’.
House judiciary committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said that the US laws require that the public be provided with adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to comment before such reforms are implemented.
“This simply cannot be accomplished to the degree required through an interim final rule and the administration knows this. This is clearly an attempt to score the last-minute political points,” Nadler said.
The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The recent decision by the Trump administration will have an adverse impact on thousands of Indian IT professionals.
“While the system needs updating, changes, this must not be rushed through without adequate input from the public,” said immigration and citizenship subcommittee chair Zoe Lofgren.
“The Congress set forth very clear parameters when it created the H-1B programme and the administration has admitted that the new DHS rule will affect more than one-third of H-1B petitions that have been lawfully filed and approved for decades.”
Reacting to the criticism, the ruling Republican Party leaders said that the move will address abuses in the high-skilled guest worker programme used to “displace” American workers with low-paid foreign labour.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley applauded the Trump administration’s move to “crackdown on widespread abuses” within the H-1B visa programme.
The DHS on Wednesday(7) said that while the programme intended to allow employers to fill gaps in their workforce and remain competitive in the global economy, it has expanded far beyond that, often to the detriment of US workers.
In a separate statement, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) opposed the move. AILA president Jennifer Minear said foreign workers play a vital role in the American economy but these regulations will create nearly insurmountable barriers to their hiring.
“These rules will undoubtedly hamstring a process proven to bring some of the world’s best and brightest into American businesses. American workers and businesses only stand to suffer as a result of these changes until these rules are challenged and overturned in court,” he said.