Companies in Indiana and across the country are facing more frequent denials of their H-1B visa applications, typically used to sponsor a visa for a foreign national with a high level of technical skill. In many cases, H-1B visa recipients attended U.S. universities and graduate schools and are highly trained in scientific or technical disciplines. Government officials have stated that the use of H-1B visas is reviewed strictly because some companies and industries may be using them to bring in highly skilled workers more cheaply than their American counterparts. However, others say that restricting H-1B visas hurts only American businesses and highly skilled workers while other jobs continue to be outsourced abroad.
Companies in Indiana have expressed concern that immigration restrictions, including new policies making it harder to bring workers from abroad or hire foreign graduates of U.S. colleges, may make American businesses less competitive. The development of artificial intelligence for military and commercial use relies on hiring the most advanced and skilled tech workers, and many companies say that American advantages in these areas rely substantially on openness to immigrants. The number of green cards permitted for employment immigration each year have not moved in decades, making it more difficult for advanced tech workers with strong skills to work for U.S. companies.
Indiana residents may be aware that some of the steps President Trump has taken to slow the flow of immigrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border have been challenged in the courts by civil rights groups. The White House has scored a handful of victories in these cases and suffered many defeats, and a new legal battle seems to be brewing. On Aug. 21, the Trump administration announced that it plans to allow immigration authorities to keep migrant families in detention centers while their asylum claims are being processed. It is a move that is almost certainly going to prompt a legal challenge.
Some people from India who hope to settle in Indiana or other parts of the United States may benefit from the Trump administration's immigration plans if they are enacted. The administration wants to move toward a merit-based immigration system that admits more highly-skilled immigrants. The plan is to increase the percentage of these immigrants to 57% from the current level of 12%.
Many businesses and people interested in immigrating to work in Indiana are highly educated. The United States already hosts more college-educated immigrants than any other country in the world, far outstripping other economically advanced nations. According to 2015 numbers, 14.7 million immigrants with college degrees over the age of 25 were living in the United States, more than triple the number in Canada. Of course, the U.S. population is also much larger, which means that only 36 percent of U.S. immigrants have a college degree compared to 65 percent in Canada.
Over the past two fiscal years, immigration case times have increased by 46 percent. This is according to research from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). One possible outcome is that skilled employees from foreign countries may not want to work in Indiana or other states throughout the country. In some cases, those who are seeking an H-1B visa could wait more than a year before hearing back regarding their eligibility.
Individuals from India who want to obtain a green card so that they can stay in Indiana or other states face the longest wait times compared to migrants from other countries. The reason for this is a quota system that caps the number of green cards given to each country at 7 percent of the total. This is despite the fact that Indians make up about 80 percent of all employment-based applicants. An independent congressional research group says this problem could be eliminated by simply removing the cap.
Proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, named the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, may place per-country caps on visas for immigrants wishing to work in Indiana and other states. According to authors of the bill, the goal of this legislation is to create fairer wait times and reduce the green card backlog, especially for Indian and Chinese foreign nationals. A result of this change may mean increased backlogs and wait times for applicants from all other nations.
One of the major work visa programs here in the U.S. is the H-1B program. Under this program, employers can seek out temporary work visas for specialty workers from other countries that they wish to have work in their U.S. operations. Recently, the federal government issued a proposed rule that would make some changes to the application process for this program.