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OP-ED: Is the US still welcoming of immigrants?

  • Published at 03:45 pm July 18th, 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
File photo: U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2020 Reuters

Age-old visa structures should not be torn down the way Trump wants

Donald Trump has started heading into the uncharted territory of banning migrant and non-resident visas in the face of an unprecedented repercussion of the coronavirus pandemic. He has extended the visa prohibition period until the end of this year. A White House press briefing obviates that the restriction on the H1B, H2B, H4, J, and L visas will remain in place for at least until December 31. President Trump signed an executive order on April 22 this year, prohibiting non-resident workers from entering the US.

The biggest impact of this order is expected to be felt on the H1B class visas. Google, Tesla, and many other tech giants consider it to be an irresponsible act that is going to cause further damage to the economy. Per US Labour Department statistics, Google, Facebook, and Apple have employed more than 13,000 highly skilled IT experts in the 2018-19 session thanks to the H1B work visa.

However, the White House points out the immense financial blow US citizens are taking due to the coronavirus. During this delicate time, foreign workers should not elbow past the Americans in getting employment opportunities. So, the ban is supposed to be a lifeline or a protective shield for the negatively affected American citizens.

Besides, Trump is not oblivious to the forthcoming election this year. His injunction on the H1B visas is exclusively designed to placate his voter base. His order does not necessarily indicate a total ban on the H1B visa application in 2020-21.

US Citizenship and Immigration Service has received a sum of 250,000 H1B visa applications until April 1 for 2020-21. They have selected 85,000 qualified candidates from this list via the lottery. These latest visa holders are expected to join their workplace on October 1.

Unfortunately, Trump’s order pulls back this selected workforce from joining. They cannot report to their workplace on October 1 due to the order. Nevertheless, they may join in January 2021 as the injunction comes to an end on December 31, 2020. In this scenario, the companies and the applicants will bear the brunt of the visa embargo for three months -- October, November, and December. If they had altogether nullified the application process for the 2020-21 session, they would have notified all the applicants.

Then, already selected applicants could raise a legal concern if the visa authority quashed their eligibility after the selection process was over. Those candidates could argue that they have received the visa approval letter, won the lottery, and spent a sum for hiring a lawyer.

But the sly temporary ban has erased all these legal issues with one masterstroke. So, there is no factual ground for the affected persons to put it to litigation.

The Trump administration has laid out a three-month stay on the immigration process. Bachelor’s and Master’s degree holders among permanent residents and citizens will enjoy a huge facility if the H1B visas are truly banned. Nonetheless, these yearning native students must earn desired job skills to cover up the hole left open by the experienced and outcast H1B visa hopefuls.

No company is willing to hire novice employees and waste time and money to level up their job competency. As a consequence, their final school year should include three to six month-long special courses devised to uplift their expertise to a mid-level worker.

This extra experience or knowledge can add some additional points in their job interviews. For example, vendor certificates on cybersecurity, networking, and database administration can boost one’s capability for rolling into an IT profession. Oracle, Microsoft, and many other vendor organizations provide vendor certificates depending on exclusively outlined exam performance.

PeopleNTech has facilitated more than 6,000 US citizens or permanent residents with practical knowledge of software testing, SQL Server Database Administration, Cyber Security, DevOps, AWS, ScrumMaster, and Project Management Professional. These skills have got them into high paying jobs.

US corporate giants have upped their tone against the Trump ban. In essence, they look forward to huge revenue, and a skilled labour force is an integral mechanism to that goal. They are going to outsource their projects in case of scarce adept workers in the US.

Ultimately, the ban will harm the US economy. Restricting the H1B visas does not guarantee an automatic positive outcome on the home turf. Repealing the H1B opportunities should be paired with the closure of outsourcing as well. Then as an impetus, you have to reduce the tax burden of those companies who forsake outsourcing. In a word, an accurate plan, in this respect, leads to an incredibly complex decision-making conundrum.

CNN reports that a representative team of 100 highly-regarded Silicon Valley executives has already taken a stance against the Trump order. They fear that the order will in effect smother the progress of Silicon Valley. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai stands foremost in the protesting delegate.

The US authority grants 85,000 H1B visas every year. Outstanding Bachelor’s degree holders from around the world can apply for a seat in the list and there are 65,000 visas dedicated to them. The rest of the visas are allocated to the students who graduate from American schools.

If you wipe out the H1B visas, American universities will be negatively affected in the end. Usually, students carefully take note of the migration policies before applying for an overseas university. Naturally, they are going to divert attention to the German, Canadian, and Australian institutes if America genuinely toughens its regulations.

America in and of itself is a world on planet earth. If you look into the universities, labs, and companies, you will trace out the cream of the geniuses who love to be a part of the American workforce. Thus America has reached its glorious height masterfully exploiting those smarts.

Those achievements are on the verge of getting flushed down the line as America is ever more pacing on an anti-immigration track. And now they have started gambling on the future of the current students.

On July 6, it was declared (which has since been reversed) that foreign students would have to leave the US if the universities stuck to online class programs instead of taking direct classes in the upcoming fall semester.

Right now, there are more than a million foreign students according to 2018-19 academic year statistics. The coronavirus disaster has bound the US educational institutes to opt for online classes, a choice that is similar to their global counterparts. This unprecedented situation had led ICE to believe that those online students do not need to stay here.

The coronavirus has upended well-established global systems to an extraordinary scale. However, in plain sight, abolishing the H1B visas is not a simple venture for the US. It does not take a lot for even the Trump administration to realize that breaking down such an age-old structure has its downsides too.

Abubokor Hanip is Founder and CEO, PeopleNTech

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