The information technology services industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) welcomed a US announcement to delay the implementation of a new rule to allot H-1B visas.
"To give USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) more time to develop, test, and implement the modifications to the H-1B registration system and selection process, DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is delaying the effective date of this final rule from March 9, 2021, to December 31, 2021. The delay will also provide more time for USCIS to train staff and perform public outreach as well as give stakeholders time to adjust to the new rule," the USCIS said in a statement.
The rule, issued in the final days of the Trump Administration, sought to change the existing H-1B selection process to prioritise visas based on wage level.
The DHS will now push the effective date of the rule from March 9 to December 31 this year. During this time, DHS will review the rule as a whole for potential changes or for rescinding it. The notice is to be published in the Federal Register on February 8, 2021.
"Nasscom welcomes this announcement by DHS including undertaking a detailed review of the rule. Rather than follow the clear language and intent of the statute, the agency had sought to move from the existing selection process for H-1B visas. Prioritizing purely on wage levels has the potential to significantly damage some of the most innovative companies in the world along with many hospitals and health care providers, research facilities, universities and other petitioners," the industry body said in a statement.
Comments on the proposed delay will be accepted for 30 days post-publication. This follows an announcement by the US Department of Labor earlier this week to delay the effective date of the final rule affecting wages for H-1B workers to May 14, 2021.
The Trump administration made several changes to the H-1B visa, used extensively for travel by Indian IT professionals to onsite locations. The changes resulted in not just increased costs for the IT companies but also made the process of granting a visa mode difficult.
"We believe it is important for the US to be able to access talent critical to the Covid recovery phase. While Nasscom member companies have increased local hiring and focus their efforts on local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills development, the visa program bridges a critical skills gap, enabling America to become more competitive globally. Nasscom will be filing comments in support of the delay and look forward to also sharing our views with DHS as it reviews the rule as a whole," Nasscom added.