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The analysis of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data, released as a part of the review of US immigration policy, has provided a window into the salaries of high-skilled foreign workers employed in the United States. The data reveals that the median salary, to be paid by the U.S. employers to high-skilled foreign workers with H-1B visas is $80,000 a year in fiscal year 2016. This up from about $69,000 a decade earlier.
Negative Sentiment and Anger
The Trump administration recently organized a ‘national listening session’ in a bid to review the country’s immigration policies. Pent up anger against outsourcing, the H-1B visa programme and Indian technology workers spilled over during session with the sentiment largely being ‘negative’ and ‘many people commenting about ill practices of the Indian outsourcing companies Economic Times had reported earlier.
The USCIS data analyzed by the Pew Research Center shows that the overall demand for H-1B visas has seen a sharp rise over this decade — from 246,126 in fiscal 2009 to 399,349 in 2016. These are visa applications filed by employers on behalf of foreign workers.
Discussions in the Meeting
A US worker who was in charge of interviewing H1B and L1 workers said that USCIS needs to be stricter, as most workers applying for these visas were not highly skilled, according to the ET report.
Another US resident went on to say that USCIS should hike the visa application fee to end the misuse. USCIS spokesperson R Carter Langston told the publication that it is not the policy of the agency to make the transcripts of the discussion public. He confirmed that the session included unemployed US workers as well as foreign nationals who were in the US on employment-based visas. “I am not aware that specific companies or countries were mentioned during the call,” he was quoted as saying. Out of 750 stakeholders in the call, 30 offered comments.
Anger Directed at Indian Workers
Poorvi Chothani, a US licensed immigration attorney, confirmed in the report that many of the comments that were negative in tenor were directed at Indian companies and Indian H1B visas.
She added that people seem to forget that Indian-origin US-based leaders like Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, Indra Nooyi and Ajay Banga were all beneficiaries of America’s immigration regime and have made huge contributions to the US economy.
However, this was not the first time the USCIS held such a call. According to Shivendra Singh, vice president at Nasscom, the agency had organized at least eight teleconferences and 12 face-to-face stakeholder engagements to get feedback from public. This was the only one they held on Employment Opportunity.
With the Trump administration in place, the H1B program — used by the outsourcing industry to send employees to the US — has come under heat. Companies such as Infosys and Wipro have filed fewer visas on behalf of their employees this year.
According to Pew Research Center, US employers filed more than 3.4 million H-1B visa applications from fiscal 2007 through the end of June 2017 .