PUNE, (ET): A US-based anti-immigration technology workers group has asked for the H1-B visa program to be suspended due to growing joblessness following the Covid-19 virus outbreak.
US Tech Workers, a non-profit which advocates more local hiring, has written to US President Donald Trump saying unemployment claims had gone up to 3 million in the previous week, with projections showing that this could rise further by 30 per cent.
“We urge you to pause the H-1B visa program that would bring in 85,000 workers this year and suspend the recently approved addition of additional 35,000 workers for the H-2B visa,” it said.
While the H-1B visa is primarily used to bring in highly skilled workers to the US, the H-2B visa is used mainly for farm workers, primarily from Latin America.
When contacted, IT industry association Nasscom declined to comment on US Tech Workers’ stance on H1-B visas, although it pointed out that the H-1B visas “fulfil an acknowledged critical skills gap for all global companies in the US market….”
Nasscom has also requested the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for a 90-day grace period for tech professionals to leave the United States following expiry of their visas, it said. The current limit is 60 days. Other organisations represe ..
Indians have been the biggest beneficiaries of this programme, receiving about 70 per cent of the visas issued annually. In the last few years, the share of visas allocated to Indian and US services companies has dropped significantly, with much higher rejection rates compared to American product firms.
“With the historical displacement of workers, compounded by the current crisis, it is very concerning that the Department of Homeland Security is working to accelerate the delivery of H-1B and H2-B workers to the United States. We ask that you stand up for the productive class of this country and protect the interest of American workers,” the letter by US Tech Workers said.