Reforming the norms of the current H-1B and L1 work visas and end its abuse by foreign companies, it has been announced by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on March 4 that the premium processing for all H-1B petitions will be temporarily suspended from April 3 onwards and this suspension could last for 6 months.
Also, the petitioner will also not be able to file Form I-907 and Form I-129 which are required for a request for Premium Processing Service and for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification respectively as the H-1B premium processing is suspended.
This H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2017 was introduced by a group of four US lawmakers including Indian American Ro Khanna, Bill Pascrell, Dave Brat, and Paul Gosar. This bill provides protections for American workers and visa holders.
This reform came up a day after a NASSCOM delegation concluded its trip to the US during which they met several US lawmakers to sensitise them about the importance of H-1B and L1 visas. Majority of law makers believes that Indian companies are getting benefited majorly with this foreign guest worker programme while the American workers are getting displaced.
The bill also includes certain provisions including doubling the minimum wage that would make it difficult for firms to replace American employees with foreign workers, including from India. The bill calls for doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $130,000.
According to the bill, the employers would now first offer a vacant position to an equally or better qualified American worker before seeking an H-1B or L1 visa holder.
The Indian IT industry, which spends over 60 percent of its total exports to the US, will be hit particularly hard if the bill is enacted into a law, as it heavily relies on H-1B visa workers for sustaining its American operations. Indians have also been awarded the highest number of H-1B visas among all nationalities in the US, all along since the program came into existence in 1990.
Under the H-1B and L1 Visa Reform, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would have additional oversight authority to investigate fraud and abuse as well as to increase penalties for companies that violate the bill’s requirements.