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  World   Americas  05 Apr 2017  US says programmers not fit for H1-B, blow to India

US says programmers not fit for H1-B, blow to India

PTI | LALIT K JHA
Published : Apr 5, 2017, 1:38 am IST
Updated : Apr 5, 2017, 6:37 am IST

In 2016, the Obama administration issued employment-based visas to 1.5 lakh Indian nationals, including 1.26 lakh H1-B job permits.

US President Donald Trump (Photo: AP)
 US President Donald Trump (Photo: AP)

Washington: The US has ruled that being a simple computer programmer would no longer qualify as a specialist profession, which is a must for the issue of an H1-B work visa, in a move that could have far reaching implications for thousands of Indians applying for such a visa.

The ruling reverses the US’ more than a decade- and-a-half-old guidelines, that were issued in the context of addressing the new millennium needs.

 

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has ruled that an entry level computer programmer position would not generally qualify as a position in a “specialty occupation”.

The clarification on what constitutes a “specialty occupation” superseding and rescinding its previous guidelines of December 22,2000 was issued by the USCIS through a new policy memorandum on March 31.

The move could have far reaching implications on thousands of Indians applying for H-1B work visas for the next fiscal beginning October 1, 2017, the process for which started Monday.

Issued just one business day before the USCIS started accepting H-1B visa petitions, the policy memorandum titled “Rescission of the December 22, 2000 Guidance memo on H1B computer related positions,” has sent shocked waves across the companies and immigration attorneys, as their application was based on the 2000 guidelines on what constitutes a specialty occupation.

 

“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 or her job is not sufficient to establish the position as a specialty occupation,” the USCIS Policy Memorandum ruled.

“Thus, a petitioner may not rely solely on the (current version of the) Handbook (that describes specialty occupation) to meet its burden when seeking to sponsor a beneficiary for a computer programmer position. Instead, a petitioner must provide other evidence to establish that the particular position is one in a specialty occupation,” the memorandum said.

 

In 2016, the Obama administration issued employment-based visas to 1.5 lakh Indian nationals, including 1.26 lakh H1-B job permits.

IT industry body Nasscom meanwhile said the US’ latest memo on H-1B visas would have “little impact” on Indian IT firms as they have already started applying for visas for higher-level specialised professionals this year.

“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,” Nasscom said in a statement.

 

Tags: donald trump, h1-b visas, computer programmer, us citizenship and immigration services
Location: United States, Washington