Donald Trump administration is proposing a hike in H-1B Visa application fee to strengthen funding for the widening of an apprentice programme, which will enrich the Youth of the United States in activities related to Technology, informed Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta to US Lawmakers.

Testifying ahead of Congressional Committee on an annual budget of the Department of Labour for the financial year starting October 1, 2019, Mr. Acosta didn’t give details of the proposed increase in H-1B application fee and to which categories of applicants the hike would be enforced on.

Considering past experience, the India-based IT firms that accounts for a large number of H-1B applications is likely to face the additional financial burden due to the proposed increase in the H-1B application fee.

H-1B Visa is a non-immigrant Visa, which permits the United States companies to recruit foreign workers in specialized posts that need technical and theoretical expertise. Technology firms depend on it to hire thousands of employees every year from countries like China and India.

Arguing that foreigners hurts American workers by contending for jobs and driving down wages, the Trump administration has reinforced the noose around H-1B Visa event. On Monday, The Seattle Times has reported that in 2018, immigration officials have denied around one out of every four asked for a new visas for skilled foreign workers.

On May 2, Mr. Acosta said in his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee – Subcommittee on Labour, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies that “In FY 2020, the Department’s budget includes USD 160 million to continue our expansion of apprenticeship programmes, along with a proposal to increase H-1B fee revenues to fund additional apprenticeship activities.”

Mr. Acosta informed lawmakers that in the last year the Department of Labor had introduced the first-ever sector-based apprenticeship grant financing scope to invest USD 150 million to expand apprenticeships in those in-demand industry sectors most frequently filled by individuals on H-1B Visas, such as health care, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.

It also introduced an approach of 35 percent private sector match need, which will bring the total investment to USD 202.5 million, USD 57.7 million comes from the private sector, added the Labour Secretary.     

Mr. Acosta claims, “As a result of this private sector match requirement, educators have a greater incentive to join with industry to ensure curricula address the needs of our ever-changing workplace, investing in the latest technologies and techniques, and providing more in-demand opportunities for Americans.”

On July 18, 2018, the Department of Labor had declared USD 150 million in H-1B funds to enrich sector-based approaches to extend apprenticeships on a national scale in key industry sectors.

The main focus is on industries reliant on H-1B Visa, which objects to expand apprenticeships and increase the apprenticeship activity level among a range of new employers within these industries, mainly small and medium sized businesses.

Alexander Acosta further told lawmakers that the Labor Department has made changes in H-1B application forms to ensure more transparency and better protection of US-based workers from employers misusing the programme.

In 2018 financial year, the Labor Department has concluded 649 non-immigrant visa programme cases and detected violation in 553 of those cases.

More than 1 lakh foreign workers are brought to the United States on H-1B Visa and permitted to stay for 6-years, reports source, adding that there are around 6.5 lakhs H-1B Visa foreign workers in the United States.

Congressman Paul Gosar said that “Let’s put our citizens first and protect US workers and wages. Hard-working and highly-skilled American men and women share their stories about H-1B visa fraud and abuse.”

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