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US body asks Trump to suspend H-1B programme amid layoffs

Non-profit body US Tech Workers writes to US Prez, citing high unemployment rates

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 02, 2020, 02.38 PM IST
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PUNE: A US-based anti-immigration technology workers group has asked for the H1-B visa programme to be suspended due to growing joblessness following the coronavirus outbreak.

US Tech Workers, a non-profit which advocates more local hiring, has written to US President Donald Trump saying unemployment claims had gone up to 3 million in the previous week, with projections showing that this could rise further by 30%.

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“We urge you to pause the H-1B visa programme that would bring in 85,000 workers this year and suspend the recently approved addition of additional 35,000 workers for the H-2B visa,” it said. While the H-1B visa is primarily used to bring in highly skilled workers to the US, the H-2B visa is used mainly for farm workers, primarily from Latin America. When contacted, IT industry association Nasscom declined to comment on US Tech Workers’ stance on H1-B visas, although it pointed out that the H-1B visas “fulfil an acknowledged critical skills gap for all global companies in the US market....”

Nasscom has also requested the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for a 90-day grace period for tech professionals to leave the US following expiry of their visas, it said. The current limit is 60 days. Other firms representing tech workers have asked for it to be extended to 180 days, citing the rising number of layoffs and economic uncertainty.

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