New Delhi: United States President Donald Trump on Monday suspended the work visa H-1B till the end of 2020 in order to “reform” and move in the direction of merit-based immigration. The move, that has been made to protect domestic workers from losing jobs, poses a serious threat for Indian companies, especially the ones in the IT sector. Also Read - 'Victim of Russia Hoax': Trump Commutes Prison Term of 'Longtime Friend' Robert Stone

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa system that is used by highly skilled foreign workers working in the US. Interestingly, Indians, acquiring more than 70 per cent, are the largest beneficiaries of this programme. Also Read - After Visa Ban, US Mulls Additional Presidential Action Against China

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The H-1B visa is completely employer-driven, which means that the companies seeking a foreign employee has to first inform the US government that they require the visas for certain specialised job roles. The companies declare that the employees who are taken in via this work visa are paid at par with their other workers.

However, it has been repeatedly criticised by immigration hardliners for being abused to bring foreign employees on a lower wage. This, allegedly, leads to the dispersal of many talented Americans.

In his proclamation, Trump had said that the overall unemployment rate in the United States nearly quadrupled between February and May of 2020 – resulting in few of the most extreme unemployment rates recorded in the States by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How will the ban affect Indians?

As Indians occupy the majority of the H-1B visa programme and the suspension is ‘effective immediately’, all visas currently being processed as well as the upcoming ones stand cancelled. This includes H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visa categories.

However, those who already have the worker visa (along with their spouse and children) and are present in the US will face no immediate consequence. Moreover, workers in the essential services in the food and allied departments have been given some relaxation. Their entries will depend on the permission by the consular officer of immigration services.

Indian IT companies will face the worst of the brunt as many of them send thousands of their employees to work on client sites on nominal pay, to avoid hiring local employees in the US. Although many of them have now started keeping at least 50 per cent of local staff, a lot of the companies would send their workers to cut down costs.