Hyderabad: Software companies from Hyderabad need to brace themselves for testing times over a new regulation that has been released by US authorities regarding H-1B visas for computer programmers.
According to a fresh announcement by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), entry-level computer programmers will find it very difficult to secure jobs in the United States on H-1B visas. The change appears to target outsourcing companies that typically employ lower-paid, lower-level computer workers.
Ranga Pothula, president Hyderabad Soft-ware Enterprises Asso-ciation (HYSEA), said that more than 90 per cent of H-1B applicants from Hyderabad are from the IT industry and essentially into computer programming jobs.
“Companies based in Hyderabad used to send highly skilled as well as entry-level programmers say 10 years ago. But off-late they are considering H-1Bs for mostly high-skilled techies and sometimes for medium-skilled. However, with new restrictions, all software firms might have to revisit the issue,” Mr Pothula said.
Companies applying for H-1B visas for computer programming positions will have to submit additional evidence showing that the jobs are complex or specialised, and require professional degrees. Entry-level wages attached to these visa applications will also face more scrutiny.
US authorities may claim that this is not a policy change, but this policy has been in place for 17 years. IT companies have been caught off-guard with the decision coinciding with the start of application filing window.
S. Jayaram, executive director of SP Software Private Limited, Madhapur, said that this decision would increase scrutiny for H-1B applicants from computer programming category.
“Big IT companies from Hyderabad and the rest of India that apply for H-1B visas for computer programming positions usually submit additional evidence showing that the jobs are complex or specialised and require professional degrees. However, with the increased chances of an audit by US authorities to check the credentials of applicants, companies will have to very careful in their approach. Any misuse of the system might lead to blacklisting of the software firm, which will be a huge blow,” he said.
Meanwhile, the USCIS has decided to take a targeted approach when making site visits across the country. Targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B programme may be more likely to occur, and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit US workers.
USCIS will continue random and unannounced visits nationwide. To further deter and detect abuse, USCIS has established an email address that will allow individuals (including both American workers and H-1B workers who suspect they or others may be the victim of H-1B fraud or abuse) to submit information or alleged violations about potential H-1B fraud or abuse. Information submitted to the email address will be used for investigations and referrals to law enforcement agencies....