International Relations

The Pledge of Vivek Ramaswamy to Reform the H-1B Visa Programme

  • Vivek Ramaswamy, an Indian-American Republican presidential candidate, has pledged to alter the H-1B visa programme.
  • The H-1B visa, which is in high demand among Indian IT experts, allows US corporations to hire foreign workers for specialised tasks that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Why are we debating this?

  • The H-1B visa is a highly sought-after category among Indian professionals in the United States, since many use it as a stepping stone to permanent residency.
  • However, the wait for an employment-based green card for Indians can last decades.
  • The US embassy in India has already processed over 9 lakh non-immigrant visas and is on track to surpass one million soon.

Recognising the H-1B Visa Programme

  • The H-1B visa programme is designed to make it easier for qualified foreign workers to enter the United States and work for American companies.
  • It is in high demand among Indian IT experts since it allows US corporations to hire overseas workers in specialised areas requiring theoretical or technical competence.
  • Despite its popularity, the H-1B visa programme has been criticised for its lengthy wait times and use of a lottery mechanism for selection.
  • Ramaswamy’s Point of View Personal Experience: Ramaswamy acknowledged his personal immigration experience and said that the H-1B visa system is harmful to all parties involved.
  • Merit-Based Reform: He argued for a meritocratic admittance method to replace the lottery system, portraying the current system as a type of indentured slavery that largely benefited sponsoring firms.
  • Eliminating Chain Migration: He also emphasised the need to prevent chain migration, noting that family members who accompany immigrants do not contribute to the country on merit.

Historical Background and Comparisons

  • Trumpian resonance: Ramaswamy’s attitude on H-1B visas is reminiscent of Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.
  • Despite utilising foreign workers on H-1B visas for his enterprises, Trump first took a tough position on these workers before changing his approach.
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