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After H-1B visa restriction, RAISE Act may destroy Green Card system

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Washington: Ever since President Donald Trump assumed office, Indian IT companies are in a fix over how to react to numerous executive orders and other moves to restrict entry of foreigners into the US. President Trump had said that he will promote the interest of American workers when he comes to White House. And now he is doing precisely that.

There were many right wing organizations in India who celebrated the former real estate tycoon’s unexpected victory in the US presidential election late last year. But, to their horror, the man for whose victory they had organized prayers, is making the entry of Indian workers difficult in the US.

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Indians will be the worst affected if the proposed law regarding doubling the salary of H1B visa holders is passed and turned into law. Indian IT workers get overwhelmingly large number of H1B visas every year, and the proposal will erode the confidence in Indian IT companies.

Now there is another proposal that is further going to make Indians’ entry in the US very difficult if not impossible. Two top Republican senators have come out with a proposed legislation in the Senate, proposing to halve the number of legal immigrants coming to the country.

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The new proposal that is being called RAISE Act -introduced by Tom Cotton and David Perdue that is said to be backed by White House, proposes to reduce the number of Green Cards issued every year from the current one million to half a million. The legislation, if cleared, could upset the plans of thousands of Indians aspiring to obtain Legal Permanent Residency in the US. The current average waiting period for Indians to get a Green Card varies from 10 to 35 years. This could increase if the proposed Bill becomes a law. It, however, does not focus on H-1B visas. “It’s time our immigration system started working for American workers,” Cotton said.

Cotton goes on to say, “The Act would promote higher wages on which all working Americans can build a future, whether your family came on the ‘Mayflower’ or you just took the oath of citizenship”. The Act would lower overall immigration to 6,37,960 in its first year and to 5,39,958 by its tenth year, a 50 per cent reduction from the 1,051,031 immigrants who arrived in 2015. This will effectively bring down the number to half instead of increasing it further.

There are apprehensions that the latest bill proposes only spouses and minor children of permanent residents could apply for green cards, bringing the number of immigrants allowed to live in the US each year to 500,000 from 1 million. A diversity visa lottery which grants visas to 50,000 immigrants would also be eliminated. The bill does not affect H1B visa holders.

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