Republican presidential candidate favours increase in H1B visa

Washington: A leading Republican presidential candidate has favoured substantial increase in the number of H-1B visas, arguing that there is shortage of highly skilled manpower in the US, according to media reports.

Rubio, who has consistently maintained his ranking in the top five in a crowded Republican presidential field of 17 candidates, said that he wanted to triple the number of H-1B visas – which is the most sought-after work visa for the IT professionals.

According to news reports, Rubio while putting forward his proposal to triple the number of visas told a gathering in New York this week, “We’re not experiencing an economic downturn. We’re experiencing a massive economic restructuring.”

“My argument is if you’re the best at what you do on this planet, I don’t want you here temporarily. I want you here permanently. I want you to become American,” Rubio argued.

A CEO of a New York-based on-demand cleaning service who was among the audience in New York described Rubio’s comments similar to that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks in San Jose last month in which he had said India was not experiencing a “brain drain” but rather a “brain gain.”

In addition to tripling the H-1B visas, Rubio has also called for broader reforms to the legal immigration system.

He is in favour of “a merit-based system” that gives people a path to citizenship – the move would benefit thousands of Indian techies – who are having to wait for years to get their permanent residency or Green Card because of the existing country-based quota system.

Under the existing laws, every year the US can allocate a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas and an additional 20,000 to people who have completed their higher education from America in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The number fills in the first few days and the federal government resorts to a computerised draw of lots to determine successful applicants.