Revision Schedule for Prelims 2017

Less than 2 months are left for Prelims 2017. Click here for a Revision Schedule for the next 5 weeks.

U.S. tightens H-1B visa programme

USCIS, the agency responsible for selecting the 85,000 H-IB beneficiaries, clarified, purportedly for administrative reasons, that computer programmers with two-year degrees do not qualify as speciality occupation as defined by the programme


A link in H1-B visa issue. Industry does not expect these regulations to affect them since 2 year degree holders are rarely hired by these companies for these assignments.

US judge temporarily blocks Trump’s travel ban nationwide

  1. Issue: President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries
  2. A U.S. judge temporarily blocked the order, siding with two states that urged a nationwide hold on the executive order
  3. Trump’s order last week sparked protests nationwide and confusion at airports as some travelers were detained
  4. The White House has argued that it will make the country safer


This news is of minor importance. Just be aware of the important happenings as immigration issue might hit India too.

New H-1B Bill in U.S. calls for doubling minimum pay

  1. Context: A new bill introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren proposing changes in the H-1B visa programme
  2. It seeks to raise the minimum salary under the scheme to $1,30,000 from the current $60,000
  3. Impact: The legislation, if passed, could hit Indian and American IT companies which use H-1B visas to hire foreign skilled workers, including Indians
  4. The proposed change will allow companies to hire foreign talent when it is locally unavailable
  5. It plugs the loophole that allows them to undercut local employees by bringing cheaper replacements from abroad


This issue is important for prelims as well as mains as it has huge impact on India’s IT sector. Also take a look at visa types here.

Sessions promises curbs on H-1B visa

  1. News: U.S. Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions told a Senate committee that he would take measures to curtail the “misuse” of H-1B visas
  2. The move that could impact Indian IT companies that use them in large numbers
  3. Legality of the H-1B: This visa programme is Congressionally mandated and U.S. courts have held that hiring cheaper foreign workers is maintainable under the law
  4. Can be undermined: The executive branch can bring pressure on the programme without changing the law, as its execution is dependent on the processing of visa applications involving multiple departments
  5. Moreover, there is an increasing consensus among lawmakers to bring some sort of curbs on the programme
  6. There are bills pending on the programme and the newly elected Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer from New York, is a supporter of restrictions on the programme


Different kind of Visas are covered earlier. Do note them from Prelims point of view. This also forms a part of Indo-US relations.

What is Totalisation Agreement?

  1. Basics: It is basically an agreement with the purpose to avoid double taxation of income with respect to social security taxes
  2. How it works? It comes into picture when determining whether any alien is subject to the US Social Security/Medicare tax, or whether any US citizen or resident alien is subject to the social security taxes of a foreign country
  3. India at present has 14 totalisation pacts with countries including Belgium, Germany and France

U.S. visa fee increase discriminatory: FM

  1. Context: Finance Minister Jailtey’s meeting with US Trade Representative
  2. News: India has expressed concern over the hike in visa fee by the US, which is discriminatory and in effect is largely targeted at Indian information technology companies
  3. Background: Last year, the US Congress imposed a special fee of up to $4,500 on H-1B and L-1 visas to fund the healthcare Act and biometric tracking system
  4. Future: He also underlined the need for early conclusion of Totalisation Agreement which would benefit Indians working in America

H1B visa: Caps met, lottery to decide 85,000 new skilled immigrants

  1. News: The applications for H1B visa category exceeded the cap of 85,000 fixed for the fiscal year 2017
  2. Of the total cap of 85,000 visas, 20,000 are under a special category called advanced degree exemption
  3. Major Players: Indian IT companies such as TCS, Wipro, Infosys and Cognizant along with Microsoft and Google that recruit resources from India
  4. Fact: In 2014, 86% of the new H1B visas issued were to Indians

India invokes dispute with US at WTO over visa fees

  1. Context: India has set off a major trade dispute with the US at WTO
  2. Why? Escalation of visa fees for L-1 and H-1B of short-term service providers & limits on their numbers
  3. Argument: Treatment accorded to juridical persons of India with a commercial presence in the US under Mode 3 of GATS are against US’ scheduled specific commitments
  4. Mode 3 of GATS: WTO members are allowed to have a commercial presence in member countries, depending on the specific binding commitments made in their schedules

India takes on U.S. at WTO over visa rules

  1. Context: Increase in fees for temporary work visas, affecting Indian workers
  2. News: India has filed a complaint to the WTO against the US over its measures raising fees on some applicants for temporary work visas, mostly involving the tech sector
  3. Reason: Indians receive unfair treatment compared with Americans in the US in providing similar services in sectors like computer services
  4. Criticism: US measures are not consistent with its commitments to accept services from other countries

Learn more about World Trade Organisation and H1B Visa.

IT sector worried; India to take up visa fee with U.S.

Industry could take a $400-mn hit a year because of the hike.

  1. India will schedule discussions with the U.S. to raise its concerns over the Obama administration’s recent decision to hike visa fees.
  2. India will consider retaliatory measures and even explore the possibility of dragging the U.S. to the WTO’s dispute settlement body.
  3. India is the largest user of H1B visas (67.4 per cent) and is also among the largest users of L1 visas (28.2 per cent).
  4. India’s export of computer services and ITES/BPO services was around $82 billion, of which exports to the U.S. and Canada accounted for nearly 60 per cent.

Special fee for H1B and L1 visas

  1. In 2010, the US had started a $2,000 fee for H1 B visas but the number of people taking it has only been on the rise, the 2010 Bill lapsed on October 1.
  2. The new Bill makes it valid until September 2025, for 10 years, though terms the fee temporary.
  3. According to NASSCOM, the $2,000 fee is used to raise $70-80 million annually.
  4. A part of money raised will fund health care and implementation of a biometric entry and exit data system.

What is NASSCOM?

  1. National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) is a trade association of Indian IT and BPO industry, established in 1988.
  2. It facilitates business and trade in software and services and encourages the advancement of research in software technology.
  3. It is registered as non-profit organisation under the Indian Societies Act, 1860.

Modi talks to Obama over H1B, L1 visa concerns

PM Modi shared with U.S. President, the concerns of Indian IT industry on the proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress relating to popular H1B and L1 visas.

  1. Indian IT companies in the U.S. may end up paying a special $2,000 fee again on the popular H1B and L1 visas to fund a 9/11 health care act.
  2. According to the NASSCOM, Indian companies had paid between USD 70 to 80 million per annum between 2010 and 2015.
  3. The extra fee applies to companies with at least 50 per cent of their employees on H-1B visa or L-1 visas, and is in addition to the other fees paid by employers.
  4. Because of its 50 per cent threshold, it mostly hits the large Indian IT services firms, the leading users of the H-1B visa.

What is H-1B Visa?

  1. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields.
  2. Applying for this visa is generally quicker than applying for a US Green Card.
  3. Therefore the H-1B visa is popular for companies wishing to bring in staff for long-term assignment in the US.

Milestone for H-1B, a passport to the American dream

A large number of Indian IT professionals have been issued the visa over the years.

  1. A digital arts exhibition on the H-1B visa has opened at the world’s largest museum in the U.S. to mark the 25th anniversary of the popular work permit falling on November 29.
  2. South Asian and Asian American artists explore America’s immigration story through this visa.
  3. Our H-1B visa exhibition explores a historic part of the American story from the perspective of South Asian Indians.
  4. Several generations of young scientists and engineers from all over Asia had come to be part of a “New America” and shape the United States’ culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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