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On H-1B visa rules: Visa heartache: THE HINDU EDITORIAL

On H-1B visa rules: Visa heartache: THE HINDU EDITORIAL

The United States’ H-1B visa has for decades been a source of nail-biting tension in India. The latest case in point was a scare that President Donald Trump’s administration was toying with the idea of new regulations that would restrict extension of the visa by those awaiting a green card. Leaving aside technical reasons why such regulations may not take off, the contentious history of the H-1B visa should have given pause to alarmist claims between 500,000 and 750,000 Indians in the U.S. would have to “self-deport”. The majority of the 65,000 H-1B regular-cap visas and 20,000 H-1B advanced-degree visas made available each year are scooped up by Indian nationals, many assimilated into the backbone of the U.S. tech industry. Nevertheless, given the number of times that protectionist rhetoric has identified this visa category as a soft target, and the relatively high frequency of spikes in political pressure to protect American jobs, one would expect a more nuanced reaction than unbridled panic. 
On H-1B visa rules Visa heartache THE HINDU EDITORIAL

In the past, even during the Obama administration, the bipartisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform plan called for the tightening of qualifying conditions for the H-1B visa. As recently as 2017, four bills were tabled in the U.S. Congress mooting new proposals to clamp down on H-1B visas. None came to fruition. The last salvo was Mr. Trump’s executive order in April, which was accompanied by much fist-banging but ultimately only called for modest changes, mainly a multi-agency study on what reforms are required. The apparently endless cycles of heartache over the H-1B visa stem from a fundamental reality: that the visa itself is designed to be a non-immigrant entry ticket into the U.S. economy, but over time it has metamorphosed into a virtual pathway to permanent residency and citizenship, particularly in the case of Indian nationals. The most important reason for this is that most of these “speciality occupation” workers — primarily experts in fields such as IT, finance, accounting, and STEM subjects — fill a real void in the U.S. labour force. It is not only Indian tech firms whose employees get awarded H-1B visas, but it is to a great extent a visa that Silicon Valley giants such as Microsoft, Intel, Amazon, Facebook and Qualcomm rely on for their staffing needs. 
Thus, there is a self-limiting dimension to any reform that purports to slash H-1B allocations, so that no President or lawmaker would want to be seen as causing economic pain to the companies on whose coat-tails the U.S.’s reputation as a global tech leader rides. Indian policymakers, who appear to be aware of this subtle truth, should focus their efforts on quiet back-channellobbying, and eschew knee-jerk reactions every time the “Buy American, Hire American” rhetoric echoes in Washington.

LEARN VOCABULARY FROM THE HINDU EDITORIAL 


Nail-biting
  • Meaning: Causing great anxiety or tension.
  • Example: “a nail-biting final game”

Toying with
  • Meaning: To consider something or doing something, but not in a very serious way, and without making a decision.
  • Example: We’re toying with the idea of going to Peru next year.
  • Synonyms: Thinking, Contemplating

Contentious
  • Meaning: Causing or likely to cause an argument; controversial.
  • Example: “a contentious issue”
  • Synonyms: Dispute, Vexed

Alarmist
  • Meaning: Someone who exaggerates a danger and so causes needless worry or panic.
  • Example: “the problem is a fabrication by alarmists”
  • Synonyms: Scaremonger, Doom-monger
  • Antonyms: Optimist, Pollyanna

Scooped up
  • Meaning: To lift something or someone with your hands or arms in a quick movement.
  • Example: She scooped the children up and ran with them to safety.
  • Synonyms: Elevate, Raising

Assimilated
  • Meaning: Absorb and integrate (people, ideas, or culture) into a wider society or culture.
  • Example: “pop trends are assimilated into the mainstream with alarming speed”
  • Synonyms: Subsume, Incorporate

Spikes
  • Meaning: Stop the progress of (a plan or undertaking); put an end to.
  • Example: “he doubted they would spike the entire effort over this one negotiation”
  • Synonyms: Scupper, Scotch

Nuanced
  • Meaning: Characterized by subtle shades of meaning or expression.
  • Example: “Lowe’s work has gradually grown more nuanced”

Unbridled
  • Meaning: Uncontrolled; unconstrained.
  • Example: “a moment of unbridled ambition”
  • Synonyms: Unrestrained, Uncontrolled
  • Antonyms: Restrained

Comprehensive
  • Meaning: Of large content or scope; wide-ranging.
  • Example: “a comprehensive collection of photographs”
  • Synonyms: Inclusive, Complete
  • Antonyms: Partial, Selective

Tightening
  • Meaning: Make or become tight or tighter.
  • Example: “he tightened up the clips”
  • Synonyms: Secure, Harden
  • Antonyms: Loosen, Slacken

Mooting
  • Meaning: Raise (a question or topic) for discussion; suggest (an idea or possibility).
  • Example: “the scheme was first mooted last October”
  • Synonyms: Raise, Broach

Clamp down
  • Meaning: Suppress or prevent something in an oppressive or harsh manner.
  • Example: “the authorities have also clamped down on public demonstrations”
  • Synonyms: Suppress, Prevent

Fruition
  • Meaning: The realization or fulfillment of a plan or project.
  • Example: “the plans have come to fruition rather sooner than expected”
  • Synonyms: Fulfillment, Realization
  • Antonyms: Inception

Banging
  • Meaning: Strike or put down (something) forcefully and noisily.
  • Example: “he began to bang the table with his fist”
  • Synonyms: Hit, Hammer

Apparently
  • Meaning: As far as one knows or can see.
  • Example: “the child nodded, apparently content with the promise”
  • Synonyms: Seemingly, Evidently

Heartache
  • Meaning: Emotional anguish or grief, typically caused by the loss or absence of someone loved.
  • Example: “the familiar pang of heartache”
  • Synonyms: Anguish, Suffering
  • Antonyms: Happiness

Metamorphosed
  • Meaning: A complete change; change or cause to change completely in form or nature.
  • Example: “overnight, family houses metamorphose into bed and breakfast as 7,000 visitors roll into town”
  • Synonyms: Transform, Change

Coat-tails
  • Meaning: Each of the flaps formed by the back of a tailcoat; the long, divided pieces of cloth that hang down from the back of an old-fashioned, formal type of man’s jacket.

Reputation
  • Meaning: A widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic.
  • Example: “his knowledge of his subject earned him a reputation as an expert”
  • Synonyms: Name, Character

Subtle
  • Meaning: (especially of a change or distinction) so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyse or describe.
  • Example: “his language expresses rich and subtle meanings”
  • Synonyms: Fine, Nice
  • Antonyms: Crude

Back-channel
  • Meaning: A secondary or covert route for the passage of information.
  • Example: “we used him as a diplomatic backchannel”

Lobbying
  • Meaning: Seek to influence (a legislator) on an issue.
  • Example: “they insist on their right to lobby Congress”
  • Synonyms: Influence, Sway

Eschew
  • Meaning: Deliberately avoid using; abstain from.
  • Example: “he appealed to the crowd to eschew violence”
  • Synonyms: Renounce, Abandon
  • Antonyms: Indulge in

Knee-jerk
  • Meaning: A sudden involuntary reflex kick caused by a blow on the tendon just below the knee.
  • Synonyms: Habitual, Customary

Rhetoric
  • Meaning: Language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.
  • Example: “all we have from the Opposition is empty rhetoric”
  • Synonyms: Bombast, Verbosity

Echoes
  • Meaning: A close parallel to an idea, feeling, or event.
  • Example: “his love for her found an echo in her own feelings”
  • Synonyms: Replica, Remains
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