The administration of United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday proposed to scrap the computerized lottery system to grant H-1B work visas and replace it with a selection process that gives priority to the jobs with higher salaries. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows American corporations to employ foreign workers in high-skill occupations. The visa has, over the years, become a key pathway for numerous Indians harboring dreams of working in the United States, especially IT professionals. The US Congress has set a limit of 65,000 visas to be issued annually with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services approving these visas on a first-come-first-served basis. To understand the demand for these visas, it is worth noting that in 2016, there were 236,000 applications for the 65,000 available visas.
The move by the Trump administration comes less than a week before the US heads to the polls, and is the latest in a series of diluting changes to the H-1B visa. Although President Trump claimed he would entirely eliminate the H-1B visa if elected in 2016, he has stopped short of doing so, presumably as a consequence of severe pressure from technology firms that rely significantly on hiring foreign workers. The new guidelines also require all H-1B applicants to hold a college degree relevant to their field of employment. According to several experts, the Trump administration’s reforms will markedly jeopardize the chances of foreign students seeking to enter the US workforce at entry-level wages. Crucially, many of these students come from India.