Last week the reforming American immigration for strong employment which was nothing but RAISE act has aimed to cut immigration by almost half from the current level of more than a million green cards which have been granted a year. The evaluation of visa applications at the h1b database are now based upon merit giving more preference to people who have higher job skills or education. It has not yet become the law and similar such ACT’s and bills get introduced every year in the Congress and what is important now is that Trump has singled out not only the bill but has also hand-picked the authors and have timed it to put the American needs first and America first.
The move will not be affecting other skilled worker programs like US H-1B visaor H2-B as the latter are employed all over the US in huge capacities. And the rival parties are floundering, Trump is now doubling down on sealing the emotional investment that the people have given him and voted him. The president along with Mr. Cotton turned the 2016 elections with one single thing which was immigration. The two competing candidates for elections have divergent views on this and this is the first time that Trump, as a politician made mincemeat of the other challengers over grueling months of the campaign and also beating the low-grade immigration, was his aim. Mr. Cotton who had humble beginnings has made it mainstream now in American political scenario and has become quite a rage.
Low-skilled migration and its effects on the working class families and wages which has nothing to do with business class travelers who are unscathed by immigration. The president is characterizing the immigrants who are coming to the US as low-skilled and dependent on aid saw figures and more than 40% of the immigrants who have arrived in the US for the past few in the past few years have a college degree which is much higher than the 30% if the immigrants in the US. At least 20% of them held an advanced degree and which is much higher than the US average. It is not the facts nor the data but the emotional core that has been tapped into and white identity when the immigration wave began in the 1960’s changing the country’s demography completely.
The RAISE Act is actually going to replace the current employment visa framework with skills based system that rewards the applicants based on their individual merit. The system rewards education, past achievements, sponsorship jobs offers, English language ability, entrepreneurial initiatives, and the system are somewhat similar to the ones that are used in Australia and Canada. The Act will be reducing the overall immigration numbers to limit the low-skilled and unskilled from entering the US and the Act also prioritizes the immediate family members of the US residents which includes the spouse or minor children but will end the preference for extended family members and adult kids. US citizens who need to take care of elderly parents will be receiving a renewable and temporary visa for them. It also eliminates the visa lottery system and also limits the number of permanent resident status for refugees at 50,000 a year.
There were many colleges in the US who lost their accreditation last year and they are dubious colleges who have questionable records of educational quality. They continue to attract foreign students as they are relying heavily on them as students are now seeking a legal way to come into the US. Once they step on US soil these students will be remaining there legally for three years after they graduate through OPT which is Optional Practical Training for STEM graduates. Eventually other turn out to become illegal immigrants.
These colleges have a high percentage of foreign students sometimes who may be more than 95% according to reports. The business model that these colleges are those of the visa mills who attract foreign candidates who can spend in unique way. So many of them are designed this way and it is all done on purpose.
These colleges who are in the list are placed in California, Virginia, and Florida and they have been accredited by the Council of Independent colleges before the DOE yanked up the recognition of the agency and it must have shut long ago. OPT students who are enrolled at these schools must have borrowed on higher rates for the fees and are more likely to be normal on their student loans.
These colleges often tend to lax the requirements and the oversight of the students and the presidents of the colleges are owners or part time owners of the organizations which generally exist in just office buildings rather than in campuses that are associated with higher education. There are some colleges who have just classes on weekends so as to accommodate those who have work schedules. The loss of accreditation is proven to be a death sentence for a lot of colleges in the US because it cut off the federal loads for the students and that is not the issue for these schools who primarily serve foreign candidates as they are not permitted for federal mortgages anyway. The key here is that not having proper accreditation did not affect the flow of incoming students and they continued attracting more candidates.
The colleges also offered a viable pathway to the US for students who do not have any relatives and employers in the US who can sponsor them on behalf of legal residency. Many candidates attend the schools and not many return home or turn out to be illegal residents as the federal government isn't going to monitor such information. Data has also shown that they are the students from compromised colleges and are users of the OPT training program. Students from one of the obscure school have got so many OPT extensions from 2009 onwards that the candidates who are from the 8 ivy league schools combined.
Hiring the workers with OPT status is said to be more attractive to the companies is because they are said to consider students even if they do not attend classes anymore and the firms are excused from paying for public security and healthcare taxes on them. The universities which lack accreditation too can release I-20 forms to the foreign students who use them to submit an application for student visas at the US consulates in their respective countries. There is a fraud too that is associated with these applications and the rejection rates have doubled in the past few years. Reforming of the entire OPT IN USA is the need of the hour and the US administration has to take stringent measures and root out the existing problems and pave way for better student life.
There are a huge chunk of Indian IT employees who are working in the US on H-1B visas as the new government is backing the immigration of highly skilled workers and programmers, the US H-1B visa applications that are put up by entry level workers are facing innumerable requests for RFE which is further evidence that will help in taking up complex jobs at higher salaries in the US. Many law firms to have seen a surge in the number of queries from the USCIS for entry level petitions or entry level jobs.
An RFE from the USCIS is not something that is new. But this time it has received innumerable RFE’s for almost all the petitions filed for entry level h-1B sponsorship jobs with the US. There has been a policy change for computer programmers who are in Level-1 jobs and hence the RFE’s for these petitions are said to be understandable. However, number of RFE has been filed for all types of jobs in the entry level category which includes technical analysts, content matter experts, and other jobs.
Since the President has been implementing his election promise of restricting immigrants entry to the US, many laws have been enacted in the US to increase the minimum wages for H-1B visa holders in order to protect the jobs of the Americans. In January a lawmaker from California had introduced a bill in the US congress to force the companies who are employing workers on H-1B visa sponsorship jobs to double the pay to $130,000 a year but the bill came under a lot of fire and was eventually not passed. Later the US Administration names services firms such as TCS, US bases CTS, Infosys accusing them of paying lower wages than what was set by the Department of Labor. The US claimed that only a mere 5% of the visa holders are earning higher wages that are deemed to be set by the DOL and three out of four workers are said to be paid lesser than the median wage and the firms, however, denied the claims.
Indian IT firms are most likely to find the new regime tough and challenging as they still send entry level engineers to the US to work on projects and the latest news is just so disturbing for them, This time the circumstances are found to be unusual. In the past, a large number of petitions that received RFE were approved by the USCIS but this time we need to wait and watch as to what happens. Also, earlier the entry level applications were not that stringently verifies unlike this time and in the year 2015 41% of the approved H-1B applications were Level 1 wages.
Such an approach by the US will mean that the ongoing efforts that are taken by the entry of highly paid and highly skilled professionals. Experts also say that highly skilled professional is the person who is working on machine learning projects and not just on Java. So updating ourselves is the key here. Entry level engineers need to buck up and master new technologies to stay in the game.