A US body representing American technology workers has urged President Donald Trump to suspend for this year the H-1B visa programme, the most sought-after among the Indian IT professionals, to protect their interests amidst the massive layoffs in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

What is H1B Visa?

 

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

US Tech Workers, a non-profit organisation which describes itself as representing the voices of American workers harmed by the H-1B visa programme, in its letter to Donald Trump also urged him to suspend the H-2B visa programmes for the foreign guest workers too.

“We have written a letter asking that the H-1B & H-2B visa programme be suspended for this year due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus. Letters have been sent to the office of the President, to his Chief of Staff, & to all members of congress,” the organisation said.

H-2B visas are mostly for foreign farm workers. US businesses hire people from Latin American countries. “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 said.

According to some reports, the Department of Labour would be looking at 50-70 million unemployed Americans by the end of April. Last Thursday, unemployment claims ramped to three million, shattering the record high of 695,000 in October 1982, the letter pointed out.

“We urge you to pause the H-1B visa programme that would bring in 85,000 workers this year and suspend the recently approved addition of 35,000 workers for the H-2B visa. Overall the importation of workers should be undertaken with great caution during this period of tremendous uncertainty,” the letter said.

“Battling both a pandemic and the resulting fallout to our economy from the coronavirus is no time to approve employment visas for more foreign workers,” wrote US Tech Workers in the letter to President Trump.