Donald Trump administration plans to hike H1B visa application fee

Vastavam web: The Donald Trump administration is proposing a hike in the H1B visa application fee to increase funding for the expansion of an apprentice programme, which trains American youths in technology-related activities, Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta told US lawmakers. Testifying before a Congressional committee on an annual budget of the Department of Labour for the fiscal year 2020 beginning October 1, 2019, Acosta, however, did not give details of the proposed increase in H1B filing fee and as to which categories of applicants it would be enforced on.

But given past experience, the Indian IT companies, which account for a large number of H1B applications, are likely to face the additional financial burden because of this proposed increase in H1B filing fees. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

Arguing that foreigners hurt American workers by competing for jobs and driving down wages, the Trump administration has tightened the noose around the H1B visa programme. The Seattle Times on Monday reported that last year immigration officials denied nearly one out of every four requests for new visas for skilled foreign workers.

Acosta told lawmakers that last year the Department of Labour had launched the first-ever sector-based apprenticeship grant funding opportunity to invest $150 million to expand apprenticeships in those in-demand industry sectors most often filled by individuals on H1B visas, such as information technology, health care and advanced manufacturing. This grant funding opportunity introduced an innovative approach: a 35 percent private-sector match requirement.

This brings the total investment to $202.5 million, $57.7 million coming from the private sector, he said. “As a result of this private sector match requirement, educators have a greater incentive to join with industry to ensure curricula address the needs of our ever-changing workplace, investing in the latest technologies and techniques, and providing more in-demand opportunities for Americans, Acosta said.

On July 18 last year, the Department of Labour had announced $150 million in H1B funds to support sector-based approaches to expanding apprenticeships on a national scale in key industry sectors. The focus is on industries reliant on H1B visas. It aims at expanding apprenticeships and increase the level of apprenticeship activity among a range of new employers within these industries, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses.