US tells companies not to overlook qualified Americans

Perhaps preoccupied with a failed Obamacare repeal effort and continued suspicion over its ties with Russian Federation, the Trump administration appears to have missed the opportunity for swift reform of the H-1B visa program for foreign workers.

The H-1B work visas are the most sought after by Indian IT firms and professionals. It also seemed to target outsourcing companies, saying it would focus inspections on workplaces with the largest percentage of H-1B workers, and those with employees who do IT work for other companies.

The new memo is part of a number of measures announced by the USCIS at the beginning of the new H-1B filing season.

"However, it should be done in a deliberative manner, in Congress, and not at the end of the application submission period", Hopcroft said. The Trump administration issued a stern warning to US companies as they began applying for coveted skilled-worker visas Monday, cautioning that it would investigate and prosecute employers that overlook qualified American workers for the jobs. Last year, the government received more than 236,000 applications for the 85,000 visas, of which 20,000 are reserved for people with advanced degrees. For a fee of $1,225, applicants were once able to expedite their processing to just 15 days. The move seems backs up statements about low- and mid-level American workers taking more jobs once reserved for those on an H-1B, while reserving the visa for highly skilled workers from overseas.

The Trump administration also released an anonymous email id to report H-1B abuse and any instance of low wages being paid for a position by an employer.

Immigration lawyers say the new guidelines will impact entry-level positions and heighten scrutiny of petitions all around.

- U.S. authorities also plan to conduct surprise checks on employers who recruit foreign nationals on H-1B visas to investigate possible incidents of abuse.

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Companies that rely heavily on H-1B workers will shoot up the priority list for audits, USCIS said. The handbook that the memo in question refers to accepted those with two-year associate degrees as qualified candidates for jobs as computer programmers.

"The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers".

Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division warned employers that it "will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against USA workers". And it promised to investigate and prosecute employers who do so.

The warning marked a major break with the Obama and Bush administrations - though less than some analysts had hoped for.

Computer programmers made up about 12 per cent of all H-1B applications certified by the Department of Labor in 2015.

"We are not just talking with the United States authorities (on H-1B visas and related issues), we are talking with logic and concrete statistics", Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour.

The issue unites Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. An H-1B speciality occupation position requires at minimum a USA bachelor's degree in the designated specialty. "It's very bad for business in terms of - and it's very bad for our workers and it's unfair for our workers".