H-1B hiring ban sought for ‘bailout’ companies
First Published : 07 Feb 2009 01:44:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 07 Feb 2009 08:25:05 AM IST
WASHINGTON: In what could be bad news for Indian professionals on H-1B visas, two US Senators have moved an amendment to the $900 billion economic stimulus bill, proposing a one-year bar on hiring H-1B visa holders in companies receiving bailout money from the Government.
The amendment, moved on Thursday, is in line with a demand set out by Senator Chuck Grassley in a recent letter to Microsoft, asking the software giant to first dump foreign workers on H-1B visas while executing its plan to lay-off more than 5,000 employees.
Indian IT professionals have been the principal beneficiaries of the US’s H-1B programme under which a total 85,000 visas are issued annually, including 20,000 reserved for foreign students graduating with Master’s and higher degrees from American universities.
Echoing Grassley’s views, Senator Sanders commented that companies employing H-1B visa holders have “a moral obligation to protect American workers” by targeting the foreign workers first during these difficult times.
“It is obscene and vulgar for these huge banks getting taxpayer bailouts to use the bailouts to throw American workers on the street and bring in foreign workers,” Sanders said.
Introducing the amendment, Sanders said their proposal essentially seeks a one-year suspension of H-1B programme in institutions receiving bailout money from the Government under the Troubled Assets Relief Programme (TARP).
While it is unclear how many foreign workers have been hired by American banks, an Associated Press estimate, released last week, said that a dozen American banks receiving $150 billion in bailout funds had applied for 21,800 H-1B visas over the last six years to hire foreign workers.
The figure is said to be over and above the ones hired by Indian outsourcing firms, handling the work of US financial services sector.
Citigroup, Bank of America, American Insurance Group, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, General Motors, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are among the major TARP recipients.
Grassley, the Republican Senator from Iowa, and Sanders, Independent Senator from Vermont, have been virulent critics of the H-1B visa programme for a long time.
“With the unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, there is no need for companies to hire foreign workers through the H1-B programme when there are plenty of qualified Americans looking for jobs,” Grassley said.
“I support the H-1B programme, but it should be used in the way it was intended — as a temporary measure to supplement a company’s need for hitech or specialised workers when none are available in the US.” Last year, Grassley and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin had introduced a bill to reform the H-1B and L visa programmes to give priority to American workers. However, neither this measure nor competing bills proposing a hike in the number of H-1B visas could be taken up at the time.
我想说的是，H1B workers和美国公民一样上税，那几百billion的bailout $$也有他们的血汗。