Regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

US mulls H-1B visa filing hike

Proposed increase will impose additional burden on Indian IT firms

PTI Washington Published 07.05.19, 07:47 PM
US labour secretary Alexander Acosta

US labour secretary Alexander Acosta Wikipedia

The US plans to hike the H-1B visa application fee to increase funding for the expansion of an apprentice programme, labour secretary Alexander Acosta told American lawmakers.

The proposed hike will impose additional financial burden on Indian IT companies.


Testifying before a Congressional committee on the annual budget of the department of labour for the fiscal year 2020 beginning on October 1, 2019, Acosta said the labour department has also made changes to the H-1B application forms to ensure greater transparency and better protect American workers from employers seeking to misuse the programme.

Acosta, however, did not give details of the proposed increase in the H-1B filing fee and the categories of applicants it would be enforced on.

But given past experience, the Indian IT companies, which account for a large number of H-1B applications, are likely to face the additional burden because of this proposed increase in H-1B filing fees.

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

Arguing that foreigners hurt American workers by competing for jobs and driving down wages, the Trump administration has tightened the noose around the H-1B visa programme.

In his testimony on May 2, Acosta said, “In FY 2020, the department’s budget includes $160 million to continue our expansion of apprenticeship programmes, along with a proposal to increase H-1B fee revenues to fund additional apprenticeship activities.”

The apprentice programme trains American youths in technology related activities.

Acosta told lawmakers that last year the department of labour had launched the first-ever sector-based apprenticeship grant funding opportunity to invest $150 million to expand opportunities in those in-demand industry sectors most often filled by individuals on H-1B visas, such as information technology, health care and advanced manufacturing.

This grant funding opportunity introduced an innovative approach: a 35 per cent private-sector match requirement. This brings the total investment to $202.5 million, $57.7 million coming from the private sector, he said.

“As a result of this private sector match requirement, educators have a greater incentive to join with industry to ensure curricula address the needs of our ever-changing workplace, investing in the latest technologies and techniques, and providing more in-demand opportunities for Americans,” Acosta said.

On July 18 last year, the department of labour announced $150 million in H-1B funds to support sector-based approaches to expanding apprenticeships on a national scale in key industry sectors.

The focus is on industries reliant on H-1B visas. It aims at expanding apprenticeships and increase the level of apprenticeship activity among a range of new employers.

Follow us on: