The US election is one of the biggest political headlines in 2020. In a closely watched contest, Donald Trump and Joe Biden go head to head in a year that has seen multiple crises on different fronts – from economy to healthcare to geo-politics. The unemployment rate in the US hit the highest levels since the Great Depression in April this year. Although the numbers have reduced since lockdown measures were eased, a winning candidate will shape new norms on jobs of the future – from unemployment extensions, tax policies, social security to incentives for new jobs and industries like green energy and infrastructure – a lot is on the line for American workers.
The election is also set to determine the future course of action for professionals seeking to work in the US. The H1B regime is closely tied to the outcome of the election. Trump’s call to keep “American jobs for American workers” has already led to a re-examination of the rules for visa eligibility and conditions on it. Recently, the Department of Homeland security and the Department of Labor notified new rules for the visa – according to which there’s a focus on changing the definitions of specialty occupation, limiting the validity of an H1B visa to one year for a worker placed at a third-party worksite and changes to the prevailing wage system among others.
Reacting to the news of new restrictions on the H1 B visa program – the Indian IT lobby group, National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) said the changes announced will restrict access to talent and will harm the American economy.
“These regulations seem to be based on misinformation about the program and run counter-productive to their very objective of saving the American economy and jobs. This is particularly relevant at a time when US businesses continue to face a huge deficit of STEM skills: overall U.S. unemployment rate grew from 4.1 percent in Jan-2020 to 8.4 percent in August-2020; while unemployment in computer occupations declined from 3 percent to 2.5 percent in this period,” the statement said… despite the high degree of overall unemployment in the US, demand for high-tech skills continues to remain robust – clearly endorsing the argument that there are just not enough workers with relevant skills to fill them. The new rules announced will worsen this talent gap by making it more difficult for U.S. employers to hire foreign workers.”
Beyond the political rhetoric, the opportunities for high skilled talent, the future of emerging green industries, and the future of jobs in America are likely to shift both for Americans and citizens elsewhere based on the outcome of the election.