For Indian techies looking to fulfil their American dream, the wait may be forever
For Indian techies looking to fulfil their American dream, the wait may be longer. According to the new guidelines introduced by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on 31st March 2017, "an entry-level computer programmer position would not generally qualify as a position in a specialty occupation."
This basically means that for a software engineer to be eligible for a work visa in the US, his/her role must fall under the "specialty occupation" category. The US government has defined the specialty occupation as "one requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of a bachelor's degree or higher (or its equivalent) in the field of specialty", for its H-1B visa program.
The guidelines also suggest that, "the fact that a person may be employed as a computer programmer and may use information technology skills and knowledge to help an enterprise achieve its goals in the course of his/her job is not sufficient to establish the position as a specialty occupation.
Responding to the memo, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) said in a statement, that “The clarifying guidance should have little impact on Nasscom members as this has been the adjudicatory practice for years and also as several of our member executives have noted recently, they are applying for visas for higher level professionals this year.”
On 31st Jan 2017, India's IT sector suffered a temporary setback with the news of the bill introduced in the US House of Representatives that mandates minimum wages of H1B visa holders at USD 130,000, more than double the current limit.
Adding insult to the injury, the UK and Singapore have also imposed restrictions on work visa, with the UK going to the extent of discontinuing the short-term visa. However, what the US enforced recently, has been effected in Singapore since 2014. The government has issued no new visas since Jan 2016, and has asked companies to hire talent locally.
In the UK, Nasscom data reveals that there are about 30,000 Indian workers on Tier 2 short-term visa category, which according to the new mandate, will no longer be renewed. The UK has also increased the minimum wage requirement for Indian workers by 69% to GBP 41,500.