The Trump administration announced new reforms in issuing of the H-1B visas, which is causing chaos among the immigrants working in the US on work visas – especially the Indian ITs. But, here’s the take, H1B visa rules have not “changed” and neither has approval gotten any “tougher” as of this week.
The latest USCIS guidance is just a routine flashing red siren to keep H1B workers’ contracts reined in as a limited number of linear relationships rather than allow this visa category become a subcontractor’s paradise. So the case is, H1B workers don’t always work for the person who controls their H1B papers – the “employer” but instead take up work at the client location who pays the “employer” who in turn pays the H1B worker. The more the layers, the more the cost to company ( because only a bumped up CTC can assure all parties a certain RoI) and implicitly, the notional damage to some American worker out there who may have been able to fill the same job description (without the pile-up formula).
The ‘body shopping’ model that informs a 1-2-3 layer contractual relationship has always been at the heart of the H1B visa’s genesis nearly three decades ago. For example, let’s say Company A (employer) brings its staffer (employee) to work at JP Morgan (client), that’s the typical cookie cutter. The latest guidance, on the surface may seem to be addressing this but no, the USCIS is only doubling down on the model going rogue. These are not “new rules” at all, it’s the USCIS hammering home the point that they have a big stick ready for ‘corp-to-corp’ arrangements (locales for H1B subcontracts) that play on the fringe of the rulebook.
So, if the subcontracting pipeline goes beyond the 1-2-3 model and adds a layer, a $100,000 per annum payout to the actual worker implies a progressively higher CTC because each layer of this beast has to be fed its pound of flesh. The latest policy memorandum “makes clear that employers must provide contracts and itineraries for employees who will work at a third-party location.” Now, this is no different from the bare bones of any contractual obligation. The subtext here is this: That ever since the USCIS went to town with its easy as pie version of fraud reporting – a simple email ID that delivers the dirt straight to the H1B visa’s minders, the quality of information that’s coming in has fundamentally been transformed.