Spouses of H-1B visa holders working in the US will lose their jobs if US President Donald Trump's plan to ban them from working is implemented. A new research report says around one lakh people will lose their jobs and this will negatively affect not only the visa holders but also their employers.
To encourage the hiring of American citizens, the Trump administration has been reworking rules of the H-1B visas − which give overseas workers right to get a job in the US for a number of years – and one of the changes proposed is to stop spouses from getting employment.
The US Government started allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in 2015 when Barack Obama was president. For their research, authors contacted 1,800 Indian families and out of these 416 agreed to be part of the study.
It is also likely that it would make the visa holders dissatisfied with their jobs and increase the risk that they might quit and return to their home country. The cost of failed expatriate assignments is in the range of $250,000 to $ 1 million. There are also indirect costs, says the report.
The study points out that policy changes like these are often made without properly studying and understanding the short and long-term consequences of such a move.
Issuing of work visas started in 1952 and idea behind this move was to allow US companies to hire overseas workers on a temporary basis when they weren't able to hire qualified local talent.
However, the H-1B visa programme has been mired in controversies with many alleging that companies, mainly India's outsourcing giants, have used the visas to get cheaper workers from overseas.
In his election pledge, Trump vowed to stop the abuse of the H-1B visas and protect domestic workers.
In furtherance of that, the Department of Homeland Security starting the process of putting a stop to the eligibility of H-1B spouses to seek employment.
This hasn't gone down well with technology companies, including Google and Amazon, who have argued that this move will hurt the spouses, a majority of whom are women, and the holders of the visa.
The visa holders say they face a lot of problems if their spouses weren't able to work. "It is very unfair to her, so we are returning to India," one respondent told the researchers. "My wife is frustrated that she can't further her career in the states," said another.
The researchers say that if the ban is reinstated, it will prove to be more difficult and critical for expatriates than what they experienced in 2014, as many who temporarily benefitted by the previous government's immigration policies most probably have bought a home or started businesses.