Highlights of new immigration bill for Indian IT industry

Infotech Lead India: The U.S. Senate panel’s nod for the new immigration bill will see the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers increasing from 65,000 a year to 110,000 a year, with 25,000 more set aside for people with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math from a US school. The cap could go as high as 180,000 a year depending on demand.

The regulation will have far reaching impact as the new guidelines seek to grant a chance at citizenship to millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States, AP reported.

The guidelines say that the number of highly skilled workers admitted to the country would rise from 65,000 annually to 110,000, with the possibility of a further rise to 180,000, depending in part on unemployment levels.

Firms where foreign labor accounts for at least 15 per cent of the skilled work force would be subjected to tighter conditions than companies less dependent on H-IB visa holders.

New protections would crack down on companies that use H-1B visas to train workers in the US only to ship them back overseas.

Immigrants with certain extraordinary abilities, such as professors and researchers, multinational executives and athletes, would be exempted from green-card limits.

A startup visa would be made available to foreign entrepreneurs seeking to come to the US to start a company.

A new merit visa, capped at 250,000 a year, would award points to prospective immigrants based on their education, employment, length of residence in the US and other considerations. Those with the most points would earn the visas.

The bill would eliminate the government’s Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which randomly awards 55,000 visas to immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States, so that more visas can be awarded for employment and merit ties.

A new W visa would allow up to 200,000 low-skilled workers a year into the country for jobs in construction, long-term care, hospitality and other industries.

A new agriculture worker visa program would be established to replace the existing program. Agriculture workers already here illegally, who’ve worked in the industry at least two years, could qualify in another five years for green cards if they stay in the industry.

Under current law US citizens can sponsor spouses, children and siblings to come to the US, with limits on some categories. The bill would bar citizens from sponsoring their siblings and would allow them to sponsor married sons and daughters only if those children are under age 31.

Legal permanent residents can currently sponsor spouses and children, but the numbers are limited. The bill eliminates that limit.

Within four years, all employers must implement E-Verify, a program to electronically verify their workers’ legal status. As part of that, noncitizens would be required to show photo identification that must match with a photo in the E-Verify system.

Picture source: bcbay.com

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