The US has a plan of increasing the application fee for the H-1B visa as a way of increasing the availability of funds for the Apprentice Program.
This was stated by Alexander Acosta, the Labor Secretary. He was testifying in front of the Congressional committee on the Department of Labor budget for the FY i 2020. Additionally, the Department made changes to the application forms for H-1B for better transparency and protection of local workers from employers misusing the program. There were no details regarding the future increase in the fee and also in the type of applicants.
Indian IT companies, which have a major share of H-1B applications, will face more burdens because of the increase in H-1B filing fees.
The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows companies based in the US for employing overseas workers in specialty occupations requiring technical/ theoretical expertise. Furthermore, technological companies rely on it for hiring several employees every year from China and India.
Moreover, the US administration has taken up strict measures in the H-1B program.
Acosta testified that for the FY 2020, the budget allotted USD 160 million for expanding Apprenticeship Programs. Also, there is a proposal of increasing revenues through H-1B fee for funding the apprenticeship activities. This Apprentice Program gives training to American youths in all technological activities.
In 2018 the Labor Department launched a sector-based funding opportunity for apprenticeship grant. It invested USD 150 million towards expanding apprenticeships in the in-demand industry sectors that is filled by persons availing the H-1B visas. These are Information Technology, Advanced Manufacturing and Health Care. The innovative approach is grant funding of a 35 % private-sector matching requirement. The entire investment here is USD 202.5 million, of which USD 57.7 million will be the share of the private sector.
The matching requirement gives the educators a great incentive in joining with the industry for ensuring curricula in addressing the requirements of workplaces. This will also lead to investments in modern technologies and also to provide more top demand opportunities for local persons.
There was also an announcement of USD 150 million in H-1B funding for supporting the sector-based approach in expanding apprenticeships nationally in major industries. The focus will be on apprenticeship activity in the new employers in industries. It will also look into small- and medium-sized business sector. Immigration officials are denying nearly 25% requests for fresh visas in the skilled overseas worker category. In 2018, the Department handled 649 visa program (non-immigrant) cases and discovered anomalies in 553 cases.
Each year, around 100,000 overseas workers arrive in the US using the H-1B visa and can stay for six years. Presently, at any moment, there are 650,000 overseas workers on H-1B visa.