The US State Department has proposed not to issue temporary business visas for H-1B speciality occupations which allowed several companies to send their technology professionals for a short stay to complete jobs on-site in the US, a move which could affect Indians.
The proposal, if finalised, will eliminate any misconception that the "B-1 in lieu of H policy" provides an alternative avenue for foreign professionals to enter the US to perform skilled labour that allows, and potentially even encourages them and their employers to circumvent the restrictions and requirements relating to the H non-immigrant classification established by Congress to protect the US workers, the State Department said.
The move, proposed on Wednesday, is less than two weeks ahead of the November 3 presidential election.
"The proposed changes and the resulting transparency would reduce the impact of foreign labour on the US workforce of aliens performing activities in a specialty occupation without the procedural protections attendant to the H- 1B classification," it said.
The State Department said the application process for a B-1 visa does not include similar procedural requirements to protect the US workers like that of H-1B visas. Also, the fees for the B-1 visas are far less than that of H-1B visas.
This could cause businesses to wrongfully use the visa for cheaper labour from abroad to cut costs by paying them significantly lower than what is customary for American employees as per US laws.
While Congress required H-1B employers to pay significant fees to fund assistance to the US workforce as well as prevention and detection of fraud related to skilled labour, employers are not required to pay comparable fees to employ skilled workers under the B-1 in lieu of H policy, it said.
According to the notification, the State Department estimates that this proposal will affect not more than 6,000 to 8,000 foreign workers per year, specifically aliens intending to provide services in a speciality occupation in the US.