In 2016, before the elections, my staff and I had a discussion as to what Immigration will look like in 2017, when Hillary wins. One of them asked, “what if Trump wins”. I brushed her off, saying, “oh, then we all will be annihilated, we will think survival, not immigration.” Of course, that was a joke, but here we are after a year with Trump in the White House.
I will confine myself to changes in Business Immigration during this year. In November of 2016, the US published its “final rule” on Employment based Immigration, an Obama era legacy, making life better for most business non immigrants. With a stated purpose of helping US Employers retain highly skilled individuals, the rule clarified porting, grace periods and other issues in non immigrant and immigrant business visas. So the year actually started with this gift from President Obama.
Of course that euphoria was short lived. Around March of every year, businesses get ready to file the new H-1Bs. Each year the quota for new H-1B is 65,000 +20,000 for US educated personnel. Since more than 200,000 people apply, there is a lottery held. One can file 6 months before the Government year, which starts at October 1. Therefore most petitions are mailed on March31, to reach Citizenship and Immigration (CIS) office on April 01.
On March 31, USCIS issued a “guidance memo” where they said that they do not believe that a level I wages for Computer Professionals does not qualify the employees as “professional employees.” While I do understand the Government’s concern about Computer Consulting Companies (See below), this memo is wrong for so many reasons.
1. Wage levels are set by Department of Labor, (not CIS). This memo is thus ultra vires.
2. To selectively have this for one particular industry violates the rule of law.
3. This memo is not backed up by either law or by a notice and comment period, and thus violates 14th Amendment
But then, the Constitution is not a necessary text for Trump supporters. Subsequently many if not most of those consulting company jobs, which were picked in the lottery, was denied. All those quota numbers were wasted.
Now lets look at the way big business gets its computer business needs. Lets say Macy’s wants to build a new website that would allow customers to browse on what is available in their local store and have something held for them before customers went out to shop. Macy’s will need to build a program. That is a temporary job. The Macy’s Corporation does not want to put in the time and effort to secure these temp jobs. So Macy’s will have a contract with a vendor to provide their computer needs. Sometimes these vendors are intermediary vendors, and they have contracts with sub vendors to get the computer professionals.
Now like many businesses (think Greek diners or Chinese laundromats), the business of supplying Computer Professionals were held by Indian. Not even the whole of India, it was utilized mostly by one state-Andhra Pradesh. Many Colleges there had poor standards. Many systems analysts did not know how to do the job and learned “on the job”. Companies like Macy’s are too big to monitor this. Besides many computer consulting companies were engaged in unethical business practices.
The Computer Consulting owners say that American grads don’t want to do these jobs. The lifestyle is hard—-they need to move from one location to the other with the projects. Usually they have a home base, and work long hours from Monday to Thursday. They fly home on Thursday and leave Sun day night.
Whatever the reason is I think the Government has a legitimate interest to cut back on the fraud. The Obama administration tried to deny H-1Bs with the Control issue, saying that those employees work at end client’s places (Macy’s) and are therefore not employees of the H-1B employer. However that has not had much success, since its inception in 2010.
I do think the current administration is in the correct path by insisting that Computer Consulting H-1B jobs are to be paid more. At least that will ensure that the US gets properly trained individuals. However the means which the current Government took to undertake this was underhanded and violated the Rule of Law.
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