On August 12, US President Donald Trump’s administration announced a new rule for H-1B visa, according to which people could be denied visa and permanent residency for being poor.
Donald Trump’s administration has announced a change in the immigration laws by reinterpreting the term ‘public charge’ which allows the government to deny permanent residency to immigrants who can be a financial burden on the government. The rule, pushed by Trump’s leading aide on immigration, Stephen Miller, will take effect from October 15 and would reject applicants for temporary or permanent visas for failing to meet income standards or for receiving public assistance such as welfare, food stamps, public housing or Medicaid.
Immigrants can legally stay in the States as long as they are “self-sufficient” which means they can be able to support themselves and “not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities, as well as the resources of family members, sponsors and private organisation,” said a notice published in the Federal Register.
“The principle driving it is an old American value and that’s self-sufficiency,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting director, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at a media interview. “It will also have the long-term benefit of protecting taxpayers by ensuring people who are immigrating to the country don’t become public burdened, that they can stand on their two feet, as immigrants in years past have done,” he added.
The rule doesn’t affect the immigrants who are already permanent residents in the US and neither to the refugees and asylum applicants. But the people applying for visa or its extension, green cards or US citizenship will be evaluated on this new rule. These also include people who are already in US but not as a permanent citizen.
The ‘Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds’ rule is believed will cut legal immigration in the country by half as it also applies to anyone applying for F1 student visa. This along with the two other changes made in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Programme this summer will also affect the immigration. According to the changes made by the State Department, first new rule requires applicants to already hold a passport while applying and the second rule is that any typographical error on the application will result in immediate disqualification with no possible appeal.
How does it affect the Indians?
With Indians comprising nearly 60 pc of the applicants of H-1B visa and 18 pc of the student visas, there may be some impact on the applicants. Most of the Indians in the USA are able to take care of themselves without the assistance from government, which the USCIS has defined as ‘public charge’. It means an individual who receives one or more designated ‘public benefits’ – which includes any cash benefits from the government for income maintenance, most forms of Medicaid, certain housing programmes, Supplemental Security Income, temporary assistance to needy families and food stamps – for more than 12 months in total within a 36-month period.
Also the immigrants applying for green cards must be able to document that they earn at least 250 pc of the Federal Poverty Level, about USD 41,000 per year for a couple, and about USD 73,000 for a family of five. About seven percent of Indian-Americans live at or below the federal poverty level, according to a data from the Migration Policy Institute, while undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most forms of federal public aid. There are speculations that the majority of the people affected by this rule would not be due to using public benefits and applications may be rejected under the ‘prospective’ criteria of English proficiency and small family size with no chain immigration.
Also the Indian IT service firms are concerned as it may be mandated that employers would have to register without paying the H-1B visa fees of those employees who they intend to sponsor for the permit and a lottery system would shortlist people for the work permit from the applications. As reported by a media, Indian IT firms have seen higher rejections for their visa applications, as the Trump administration looks at hiring more locals. The top four Indian companies- Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, HCL Technologies and Wipro have had 50 pc of their visa applications rejected.