By Ayushi Nigam
H-1B is highly acclaimed form of non immigrant visa that attracts most of us, however H-1B has achieved this popular status after being scrutinized from time to time. Over the years many US presidents have adorned this ticket to USA which we call H-1B with plenty of modifications. In this article lets go through the journey of the evolution of H-1B, which is the most popular employment based visa worldwide.
It all started in the year 1990 under the Presidency of George H. Bush, who signed The Immigration Act, 1990 which increased the legal immigration by 40 percent in the United States.This act permitted H-1B as dual intent while still maintaining temporary impression, total years of visa stay was increased upto 6 years. The H-1B cap was of 65,000 and the fees was only base filing fees, i.e. $365. And also labour attestation was made compulsory for improving the prevalent working conditions.This legislation is considered as the birth of H-1B Visa.
While in the presidency of Bill Clinton, there were two legislations which were enacted, and that added lot of things to H-1B. The First Act was American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act, 1998 ( ACWIA), the new H-1B visa almost doubles the cap from 65,000 to 115,000 for the year 1999 and 2000, and also an amount of $500 was added to the base filing fees as a fees to fund the scholarship and training program. ACWIA was followed by the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) passed in 2000, that significantly restructured the H-1B to allow for a lot more temporary workers by increasing the cap upto 195,000 for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003, while also giving a few more years’ grace period before the cap would become binding again. The key points of this Act which is still prevalent are H-1B transfer and cap exempt. The amount of training was increased to $1000.
Under the leadership of George W. Bush, H-1B Visa Reform Act, 2004 came into existence which later became part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005. It was successor to previous legislations. The changes brought by this Act are as follows; Firstly the amount training fees introduced by ACWIA and then again amended by AC21 is now increased to $1500 for the companies with 26 or more and employees and $750 for small companies. Secondly provision of Anti Fraud Fees of $500 is also added. Thirdly, cap is reduced to 65000 and a cap of 20000 for people having master’s degree for US was created.
Barack Obama, the present president has not made any amendments in the procedure of H-1B visa program as laid down in H-1B Visa Reform Act 2004, although H-1B Visa reforms Act 2013 was in headline when it was presented by Chuck Grassley. This new bill aimed at reducing all the discrepancies which are present in the H-1B visa program, in order to prevent any kind of misuse and fraud. Certain guidelines were given in order to maintain balance between American workers and visa holders. Till recently when on 18th December 2015, he signed a bill Consolidated Appropriation Act 2016, which doubles the H-1B fees upto $4000 for the companies having more than 50 employees and having more than 50 percent of H-1B visa employees. The amount generated from this increment will fund the biometric system and treatment of 9/11 first responders.
Since 1990, lot of positive changes are made in H-1B visa program by different presidents, which shows that H-1B is benefiting the US economy. The current situation is, the United States government provides 85,000 H-1B visas. And with the new presidential elections coming up, most of the nominations are speaking and expressing their concerns about the H-1B visa program, but I am sure eventually they will keep those concerns aside because they cannot ignore the technical knowledge the H-1B workers possess which ultimately benefits United States and enact some more laws in favor of H-1B.
God Bless America!