Billionaire White House aspirant Donald Trump has called for changes to the US H-1B Visa System which may have a huge impact on the thousands of Indian IT workers in the United States.
Trump, whose outspoken views on immigrants and immigration has divided opinion in America, on Thursday said he wants to require employers to pay H-1B workers much more money than at present which he said would discourage companies from hiring foreign workers and improve job prospects for Americans.
He also wants to have tech jobs offered to unemployed Americans before they can be filled by workers with H-1B visas.
The H-1B visa programme was created in the 1990’s but salary requirements were never pegged to inflation which meant that companies – including the likes of Google, Facebook and other tech giants in Silicon Valley – were able to employ foreign workers on relatively cheaper salaries to Americans.
Tens of thousands of South Asian workers ply their trades across America on H-1B visas.
Trump also said that changes to the visa system would benefit minorities and women.
“This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program”, Trump wrote in his immigration plan.
Tech CEO’s such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer have called for an increase in the number of H-1B visas issued every year in a bid to maintain Silicon Valley’s competitive advantage.
Zuckerberg started a public interest group called Fwd.us to push for reforms within US immigration policy.
Trump insists that tech employers don’t need H-1B visas to fill jobs because there are “plenty of graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM, to fill tech jobs”.
Employers are required to pay a “typical” wage to anyone hired under an H-1B visa. But in reality, employees on these visas are typically paid 20 to 45% less than U.S. workers.