Are Trump H1B Visa Reforms Killing The U.S. Tech Industry?

Trump H1B

Three bills are making their way through congress in response to U.S. immigration rules and in particular, the Trump H1B Visa policy. As a result, Tech companies are bracing themselves for what could be a game-changing scenario.

Since the 1990’s, Tech giants like IBM, Microsoft, and Apple have been encouraging highly skilled foreigners to fill jobs in the U.S. that purportedly could not be filled otherwise. Will the Trump H1B Visa reform, as part of his anti-immigration and closed borders agenda, actually save American jobs? Or will this be the end of the U.S. reign of technology?

Why Is Visa Reform on the Table?

Trump’s somewhat vague immigration order received much criticism and is subject to change. Originally, it was drafted in response to what Trump advisors view as a threat to U.S. jobs. Both U.S. Attorney General, Jeffrey Sessions, and Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon have warned of the tremendous threat to American workers:  that of hiring cheaper, outsourced labor from other countries. Most notably, is India, who got 89% of the H1B Visas in 2014.

And they may have a point. The H1B program has not been updated in over a decade. Since that time, outsourced labor has seen phenomenal grown alongside a burgeoning tech industry. In response to this issue and the recent focus on Trump immigration reform, legislators have been busy drafting policies. Their focus is on ensuring that cheap foreign labor is not being promoted over hiring equally skilled Americans.

The Question of India

Currently, India enjoys a $150 billion IT global outsourcing industry. Employing 3.7 million Indian workers via H1B Visas, the average salary is just over $79,000 annually. As a result, this nation may take a bit hit if U.S. reforms move ahead. The largest source of H1B Visa applications is heads above everyone else:  Infosys, a global outsourcing company based in India. In 2016 alone, Infosys filed over 33,000 H1B Visa applications. The total allowable number of applicants allowed each year is 65,000. Plus an exemption of 20,000 additional workers with a master’s degree or higher.

However, moves to tighten H1B Visa regulations may be seen as a diplomatic blunder, worsening ties with one of the world’s top democracies. Not to mention a deep well of highly skilled tech workers:

The Problem for U.S. Based Tech Companies

Microsoft, who filed 4000 H1B Visa applications in 2016, is reportedly paying the highest salaries of all H1B Visa sponsors. Along with other U.S. tech companies like Intel, Microsoft hires highly skilled foreign employees in the vacuum of tech ready American workers. But the H1B has the main purpose of bringing in skilled workers to fill the gaps in the ever hungry technology sector. For the most part, the feeling is that the multi-national outsourcing companies like Infosys are the abusers of the H1B system, and not so much the tech giants. But both are likely to feel effects if reforms are passed.

Trump H1B Visa Policies in the Making

In response to this issue and the recent focus on Trump immigration reform, legislators are busy drafting policies. Proposed changes vary from raising the minimum salary requirements and forcing companies to prove they could not fill the jobs with U.S. workers, to eliminating the lottery based system in favor of one that prioritizes applications from students attending higher education in the U.S. Another proposed bill supports a first priority for companies paying the highest salaries. Also on the table is reserving 20% of the applications for start-up businesses with fifty or fewer employees.

There are three Trump H1B Visa bills currently in process involving one or more of the elements above. Whether or not any of them make it into law is another thing altogether. Furthermore, Trump has faced a monumental backlash against his immigration policy of banning all foreigners from Muslim-majority countries. Needless to say, this has put a dark light on all things immigration, including the Visa programs.

What Will Happen?

Unfortunately, no one knows at this point. While Trump H1B bills are making their way through Congress, the tech world awaits. Keep up with the latest Trump news affecting technology right here at Valoso.trump h1b visa