Good news for Indian techies! US Court rules against H-1B visa program changes
There is some good news for Indian tech professionals working in America. A US court has ruled against the recent changes introduced in the H-1B visa program, including raising minimum wage levels and tightening eligibility requirements. These changes were ordered by the outgoing US President Donald Trump, making it harder for people to get skilled-worker visas.
The US Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Council and others had sued the Department of Homeland Security arguing that the new restrictions had been imposed without a proper public review process. Under the new rules, minimum wages for H-1B workers were set to rise by an average of 40 per cent across job roles and locations, pricing them out of the market in several areas.
Hearing on the case, US District Judge Jeffrey White found that the unemployment crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic was not ‘good cause’ for the US Department of Homeland Security and US Department of Labor to flout the proper regulatory procedure when issuing the two policies, which aimed to crack down on H-1B specialty occupation visas.
The Trump administration had cited the Covid-19 pandemic and its toll on the economy as reasons for skipping required public notice and review processes, according to court documents. Immigration experts had said then that the rules were unlikely to withstand scrutiny in court.
‘This is a major win for our economy and for our ability to recover from the worst downturn in generations,’ said Bay Area Council chief executive Jim Wunderman.
‘The Bay Area and America must continue to be a place where anyone around the world can come to pursue their dream or dream job,’ he said.
Wunderman added that many thriving Northern California tech firms were founded by entrepreneurs who first came to the US on visas.
‘H-1B workers fill an important need in our economy and provide immense benefits not only to the companies they work for but the communities where they live,’ Wunderman said.
‘Closing the door to talent from around the world will drive those skills and the opportunities they create to other countries who are more welcoming. In the end that means fewer US jobs.’
Wunderman said the rushed restrictions were part of what he called a concerted effort by the Trump administration to clamp down on all kinds of immigration.
White said in his ruling that the US did not demonstrate ‘that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic unemployment justified dispensing with the due deliberation that normally accompanies’, making changes to the H-1B visa program.
Evidence regarding unemployment rates most relevant to H-1B visa applications did not show a ‘dire emergency,’ White said.