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US lawmaker moves bill to double H1B visas

US runs the H1B visa programme to make up for the shortage of speciality workers

Washington: A US lawmaker has introduced legislation proposing to double the annual intake of foreign workers on H1B visas, a short-term work permit that has been a gateway for Indians to work, live and, eventually, seek citizenship of this country.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Indian-descent Democratic lawmaker, submitted legislation last Friday to increase the annual H1B visa cap from 65,000 to 130,000.

The US runs the H1B visa programme to compensate for a shortage of specialty employees, while critics contend that the deficit is greatly exaggerated and that the process is being utilised by American corporations to hire less expensive foreign workers brought in by IT services firms.

An estimated 75% of the H1B visas granted in a year total 85,000 — 65,000 hired abroad and 20,000 recruited from foreign students enrolled in US colleges and universities — are known to go to workers from India, hired by some of the largest US tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, as well as IT services behemoths such as Infosys, TCS, and Wipro.

Krishnamoorthi stated in a press release on Tuesday that expanding the H1B visa programme will assist American companies in filling critical roles. The bill is known as the HIRE Act, which stands for High-Skilled Immigration Reform for Employment.

“Creating jobs and building the economy of the future requires us to lead the way in technology by developing our domestic workforce while drawing the best talent from around the world,” Krishnamoorthi explained. “That is why I am proud to introduce the HIRE Act, which will increase investments in elementary and secondary STEM education while doubling the number of H1B visas available from 65,000 to 130,000.” We can generate better-paying jobs and harness tomorrow’s technologies by investing in our native talent while recruiting the greatest minds from around the world.”

The legislation also aims to solve the skilled labour shortage in the United States by subsidising STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programmes in schools.

“The United States must maintain its leadership in technology and innovation,” said Vinay Mahajan, head of an IT services industry advocacy group, in the same announcement. “The startup eco-system must be turbocharged.” High-skilled labour is a significant component of both. The United States has a big skills gap — the availability of people versus the openings for IT competence. The HIRE Act focuses on closing this gap through high-skilled immigration and financing for local STEM talent development. We need the best minds from around the world to maintain our global advantage in technology and innovation.”


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