The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 doubles salaries for H1-B visa holders

Indian IT firms’ stocks stumble amidst H-1B Visa concerns

The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 introduced last week in the House of Representatives by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California’s Silicon Valley area, aims to end what it calls the “abuse” of the work visa program, which it says has “has allowed replacement of American workers by outsourcing companies with cheaper H-1B workers.”

If enacted the legislation would raise the minimum salary for those applying for H1-B visas to $130,000 from the current $60,000.

“My legislation refocuses the H-1B program to its original intent — to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the U.S. workforce with talented, highly paid, and highly skilled workers who help create jobs here in America, not replace them,” Lofgren said on her website.

The H1-B program allows high-tech companies to hire foreigners with technical skills in the U.S. for three to six years. The proposed bill comes as the tech industry is already reeling from an executive order on immigration from President Donald Trump that bars nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

The shares of top Indian IT companies sank upto 4% in a single day  in response to news of proposed U.S. legislation that would require salaries for H-1B visa holders to be doubled. The new legislation intends to make it harder for companies to replace American workers with those from countries like India.

Shared of the major IT companies, like Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services, had fallen drastically on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The IT sub-index on the exchange, which comprises all the tech firms trading on the stock exchange, shed more than 3 percent on January 31st, reports stated.

The stock of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) fell by 4.47%, the biggest single-day loss on Tuesday in last two months. HCL Technologies’ shares too registered their biggest single-day loss since April 2016 by dropping 3.67% on January 31. The stock price of other IT firms like Infosys, RS Software India, Mindtree, Wipro fell between 1.6% and 3.3%.

The U.S tech industry relies on foreign engineers and other technical experts for a sizeable percentage of its workforce.

While the tech industry insists the H1-B program is crucial, critics say it puts American programmers and engineers at a disadvantage. Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, has long opposed the program.

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