H-1B: US mulling minimum pay criteria

According to US affairs observers, the proposal is aimed at preventing highly skilled foreign workforce from being allowed to work in the US

By Author  |  Published: 23rd May 2020  7:28 pmUpdated: 24th May 2020  12:01 am

Hyderabad: After suspending immigration temporarily, the US government is now reportedly mulling a proposal that requires companies to pay a minimum wage of $1,50,000 to $2,50,000 per annum to foreign scientists and engineers with H-1B visas.

According to US affairs observers, the proposal is aimed at preventing highly skilled foreign workforce from being allowed to work in the US. And companies may not afford to pay high wages as minimum pay for H-1B visa holders. Every year, the majority H-1B visas are bagged by Indians.

Currently, $1,50,000 to $2,50,000 wages are categorised under level 4 for manager and software developer levels for the H-1B visa holders in New York. This payment varies with the job and location of work. Likewise, the H-1B holders at level 1 and 2 presently have wages between $70,000 to $90,000 per year.

That the Trump administration is considering such a proposal, to require companies to pay a minimum wage of $1,50,000 to $2,50,000 or more per annum for the foreign-born scientists and engineers with H-1B status depending on the job and place of work, was reported by Forbes.

The US affairs observers point out that proposed changes are in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and also for garnering support for Trump in the upcoming presidential elections. Most startups, medium size and multinational companies in the US employ a large number of foreign nationals particularly Indians under the H-1B status every year. The foreign nationals get the work permit as there is a dearth of highly-skilled local workers specifically in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) area.

As per the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a total of 1,16,031 H-1B new or initial petitions were processed in the fiscal year 2019 and 27,707 of them were rejected by the USCIS. Of the total H-1B visas issued, a majority were bagged by Indians.

Last month, the US President Donald Trump signed orders temporarily suspending immigration into the US for 60 days and also ordered for review of non-immigrant programmes in 30-days.

“Within 30 days of the effective date of this proclamation, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review non-immigrant programmes and shall recommend to me other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers,” read a proclamation dated April 22.

The proposed changes in the H-1B programme comes at a time when the deadline to review non-immigrants concluded on May 22. “US companies depend on India and China for workforce through the H-1B programme as not many highly skilled locals are available in the STEM area. The companies may suffer as many foreign nationals will not qualify for H-1B programme with proposed changes,” US Affairs expert G Narsi Reddy said.

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