The US President Donald trump said that he wants to stop immigration, while Americans are faced with staggeringly high unemployment as a result of the pandemic coronavirus. In the President’s plan includes a ban on temporary visas for skilled foreign workers and foreign students enrolled in colleges in the US, writes Vox, citing the New York Times.
More than 85,000 immigrants per year to receive H-1B visa for skilled workers, including more than 1,000 for each of such tech giants as Google and Amazon. The demand for these visas always exceeds the supply.
But the New York Times reported that trump is considering a ban on the issuance of new visas in certain categories of employment, including H-1B visa, as well as the termination of the program of optional practical training (Optional Practical Training, or ORT), which allows foreigners receiving student visa to work in USA for up to 3 years after graduation depending on their area of study.
If trump will promote the implementation of this plan, it will create problems with the job search for immigrants who rely on these programs and who, for the most part, there is no other way to continue my career in the United States. Many employers have difficulty filling vacancies requiring specific skills, especially in STEM fields where there is a well documented shortage of workers, helping to stimulate economic growth and create jobs for those born in the country.
Lawmakers-Republicans encourage trump to suspend the program of H-1B and OPT for the year or up until the unemployment rate reached almost 15%, will not return to normal.
The programs have their flaws, but their closure probably will not help the vast majority of job seekers of Americans during the crisis. Complete cessation programmes will create uncertainty for employers who are faced with a gap in the workforce, and for Americans they hire. American universities, research institutions and the business community who rely on these programs, lobbied the Republican proposal on the temporary suspension of programs, but it is not clear, whether will listen to him the White house.
Trump has ordered the administration to publish the interdepartmental report on these visas, which can help to justify any planned actions by the President. However, associates of Congress are skeptical that the administration will achieve complete closure of programs the H-1B and OPT.
Experts say that changes to the program to ensure that foreign workers do not displace Americans, rather than their termination. Lawmakers of both parties sought such reforms in the H-1B for more than 10 years, and senators dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley reintroduced the relevant legislation may 22.
Trump’s position on skilled immigration
After his campaign in 2016 trump spoke out against the program, H-1B, which, according to him, suppresses American wages and employment, as well as rife with abuses by employers, and warned about the “brain drain” in the form of foreign graduates.
“They’ll go to Harvard, they go to Stanford, they go to Wharton, but as soon as they finish, they pushed, he said in 2016. — They want to stay in this country. They want desperately to stay here, and I can’t. We absolutely need to keep minds in this country.”
Upon taking office, trump has advocated the creation of “an immigration system based on merit”, which would be favourable to immigrants of the same type that currently use the H-1B and OPT — those who possess valuable skills, provides jobs, degrees and salaries higher than those who have family ties with the United States. But he also signed the order “Buy American and hire Americans” in April 2017, which strengthened the control of the applicants H-1B, led to a sharp increase in the number of failures, and considering ideas about end-of-program OPT.
This discrepancy can be explained by the desire of trump at the same time to satisfy anti-immigration and Pro-business wings of the Republican party, who often are on opposite sides of the debate over highly skilled immigration. At the beginning of the pandemic trump has proposed to stop issuing all work visas, but the New York Times reported that, in the end, decided to abandon the idea after pressure from business groups.
The United States needs highly-skilled foreign talents
Program H-1B and OPT — a “pipeline” for foreign experts, particularly in the field of computer science, engineering, education and medicine.
The application process for a visa H-1B costs about 10,000 dollars per employee and are usually paid by the employer. But without these visas, many companies claim that they will have difficulty filling jobs requiring specific skills or degrees. In this regard, the business community in recent years lobbied the Congress to increase the limits on the issuance of visas H-1B.
Postgraduate studies through the OPT program can be a stepping stone to the H-1B cap for foreign graduates of American universities, particularly in STEM fields. According to the Service of citizenship and immigration of the United States, in 2019, the government received a record 220 000 requests on ORT. For foreign students who decided to enroll in American universities, the prospect of the opportunity to work in the U.S. after graduation is a major problem. According to the National science Foundation, most foreign students at the ORT prefer to stay in the U.S. and become members of the scientific workforce.
In the absence of opportunities to work after graduation international students can opt to study in the United States that can have devastating consequences for American universities. In recent years the number of foreign students who typically pay tuition more Americans, slowing but still brings revenue to $ 39 billion.
H-1B and OPT is vulnerable to abuse
While many enterprises are facing labor shortages and pay their qualified foreign workers a fair wage, some employers used the H-1B and OPT for a cheap fill vacancies — sometimes at the expense of American workers.
The Federal guidance States that the H-1B should not “adversely affect wages and working conditions” of Americans. On the question of whether employees are H-1B a lower salary and if they lower American wages, it has proven difficult to answer, this has caused disagreement among researchers. But it is clear that employers are really able to use the H-1B to displace Americans.
Most employers do not need to prove that no qualified Americans who could take this position prior to hiring worker H-1B. This allowed the companies starting from Disney and ending with the energy company Southern California Edison and the manufacturer of tests for antibodies to the coronavirus Abbott Labs, to fire American workers and replace them with workers H-1B with lower wages — in some cases even ordering American workers to train their successors.
Often companies use outsourcing firms that draw employees mainly from India, on H-1B to fill IT positions. The largest of these firms, Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, constantly get more visas H-1B, than even the largest American technology companies.
These practices are completely legal. But they lit the debate about whether the H-1B programme as it was designed: does it complement the American labor force, or competes with it.
Program OPT is governed by even less: don’t set the minimum wage for job seeker jobs. This means that graduates can work a full day, nothing or almost nothing. In this case, employers are not required to show that this position was not a qualified American. This study 2019 showed that foreign students participating in the program OPT, do not reduce job opportunities for Americans. On the contrary: the more foreign students approved for OPT in STEM fields, the lower the level of unemployment for U.S. workers in these areas.
Both Republicans and Democrats have taken action
May 22, Grassley and Durbin reintroduced a bill that would guarantee that companies should look for qualified American candidates before hiring workers on H-1B. The bill sponsored by senators Bernie Sanders and Richard Blumenthal. The first version of a similar bill was introduced in 2007.
The bill prohibits the replacement of American workers by recipients of visas H-1B and forbids companies to fire us workers for 180 days before and after hiring the employee on H-1B.
It also would change the allocation of visas H-1B, eliminating the lottery system, which currently selects the recipients of visas, and creating instead the “system preferences”. Priority should be given to foreign graduates of US universities, people with advanced degrees, high salary with valuable skills.
The bill would also require employers to demonstrate the fact that they made a good faith effort to find Americans for recruitment, and that none of them really came up, until, as job suggested that the recipient of the H-1B visa. The same demand needs to face the employers of students at ORT.
As claimed by Grassley and Durbin, outsourcing companies will be much more difficult to dominate the H-1B programme, as it will exempt visas for conscientious employers that were excluded from the program.
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