US tells companies not to overlook qualified Americans

H-1B Visa Applications Begin Tomorrow Untouched by TrumpMore

The Justice Department also warned employers applying for the visas not to discriminate against USA workers.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service said it would direct more inspectors in the H-1B program to the controversial outsourcing companies, many of them based in India.

The Trump administration is beefing up enforcement of the H1-B visa program used by tech companies to bring high-skilled workers to the U.S. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation to revamp the H-1B program, and Trump reportedly is considering an executive order in the absence of congressional action. The bulk of these visas went to the tech segment but the architecture, finance, engineering, mathematics, and science fields also made liberal use of the H-1B. "What we are waiting to see is how they will tighten the process".

The warning came as the federal government began accepting employers' H-1B visa petitions for the next fiscal year.

This means, going forward, some jobs may not qualify for "specialty occupation", as such, those programmer jobs do not qualify for H-1B visa, said Rajiv Dabhadkar, founder of the National Organisation for Software and Technology Professionals.

For workers in specialty occupations, the H-1B visa allowed USA companies to employ "graduate level workers" in certain fields. Last year was the fourth year in a row that the application window closed after just a few days. The US uses a lottery system to allot these visas if applications exceed the annual cap of 65,000 for these visas.

But Harrison also noted that the new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was a frequent critic of the H-1B program during his tenure in the US Senate.

The guidelines require proof a job is so complicated, computer programmers need more advanced knowledge and experience to combat what the agency characterized as fraud and abuse.

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Earlier in March, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in the Lok Sabha that the USA has conveyed to India about not making any major changes in the H1B programme. Indian tech companies such as Infosys and TCS, which have offices in the United States, also find it cheaper to send an Indian to their USA offices rather than hire American citizens purely because of the monetary gain made in the process.

"I'm not sure [the memo] will be a significant change", said Stacey L Gartland, a partner at immigration law firm Van Der Hout, Brigagliano, Nightingale, LLP, in a phone interview with The Register.

The current H-1B visa program has an annual limit of 65,000 visas each fiscal year, and the first 20,000 visas for USA master's degree holders are exempt from that cap.

Nelson said people from the six countries in Trump's latest travel ban could have their applications delayed, even though the courts have temporarily put the ban on hold. First and foremost, the government changed guidelines that had been in place for 17 years with essentially no advance notice.

The issue unites Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Business groups say that while they rely on H-1B workers, the system is outdated and doesn't serve Americans, foreigners or the needs of the economy. That's because the program has become, according to many, a conduit for cheap foreign labor that depresses the wages and employment of American IT workers.

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