Joe Biden’s immigration policy to benefit Indian IT professionals

Joe Biden’s immigration policy will allow more skilled foreign workers into the U.S. without moving widespread protest from labour groups. The proposal Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office drew quick Republican opposition over its centrepiece: a faster path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Another provision would allow more foreign students and workers to enter the U.S. by increasing the number of employment-based green cards.

Business groups look at the proposal as a way to increase the availability of coders and other skilled tech workers for U.S. companies without raising caps on programs such as the H-1B visa for high-skilled workers.

Tech Giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. have for years demanded to increase the number of tech workers allowed into the U.S., saying they need engineers from countries like India because there aren’t enough skilled Americans. But efforts to expand the workforce through H-1B visas have drawn a backlash from unions and immigration opponents, who argue that the companies overlook U.S. talent to hire foreigners at lower salaries.

The Biden proposal seeks to sidestep a conflict with organized labour by leaving the annual H-1B quota untouched. The measure instead clears a path for more foreign workers to eventually enter the country by eliminating a decades-long backlog of people waiting for employment-based green cards, which grant permanent legal residence and are capped at 140,000 per year under current law.

Business group leaders have discussed an immigration overhaul with Democratic and Republican staff in the House and Senate, according to industry officials working on the issue. The talks have focused on finding areas of bipartisan consensus that can help advance an overall package, including keeping science-technology-engineering-math graduates in the U.S.; providing legal status for so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children and streamlining the employment-based visa system.

So far, labour groups are supporting Biden’s approach.

Biden’s proposes to recapture unused visas from prior years and eliminate per-country caps for employment-based green cards, which could benefit Indian information technology professionals who sometimes wait decades to gain permanent U.S. residence. The plan would also exempt spouses and children of green-card holders from the annual quota, which some advocates estimate could double the number of employment-based cards.

There’s debate over whether tech companies in the U.S. need to import workers. Engineers and IT personnel are among the hardest positions to fill, according to the Manpower Group, and businesses say that as a consequence, they’re forced to look for foreign workers. But immigration opponents say the U.S. labour pool is sufficient, pointing to the number of Americans who receive degrees in computer science or related fields.

Biden’s proposal attempts to keep overseas students who earn advanced science and technology degrees in the U.S. by giving them a faster track to permanent residence. It would help guest workers who already hold H-1B visas by making work authorization for their dependents permanent, and preventing their children from ageing out of the system.

Biden’s plan also acknowledges concerns of labour groups. It grants the Department of Homeland Security the power to raise or lower the number of green cards available based on economic conditions and enact rules to encourage “higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with the American worker.”

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