'H-1B Visas Form Of Indentured Servitude': Republican Presidential Candidate Ramaswamy Promises To End It Despite 'Using' It 29 Times
Vivek Ramaswamy, an Indian-American Republican presidential candidate, has criticised the H-1B visa programme, calling it "indentured servitude."
He has pledged to overhaul the current lottery-based system and implement a merit-based admission process if he is elected to the White House in 2024.
The H-1B visa is highly coveted among Indian IT professionals and allows US companies to hire foreign workers with expertise in specialised fields. It is a non-immigrant visa designed for occupations that require theoretical or technical knowledge.
Major technology companies heavily rely on the H-1B visa programme to recruit thousands of employees each year, particularly from countries like India and China.
Ramaswamy has personally utilised the visa programme 29 times.
Between 2018 and 2023, US Citizenship and Immigration Services granted approval for 29 applications from Ramaswamy's former company, Roivant Sciences, to employ individuals under H-1B visas.
According to Politico, Ramaswamy has stated that the H-1B system is detrimental to all parties involved.
In a statement, he expressed his belief that the current lottery system should be replaced with a merit-based admission process.
He criticised the H-1B system as a form of indentured servitude that primarily benefits the sponsoring company. Ramaswamy also emphasised the need to eliminate chain-based migration in the United States.
The immigrants who come as family members do not contribute to this country based on merit and skills.
When questioned about the inconsistency between the Republican presidential candidate's policy stance and his previous business practices, his press secretary Tricia McLaughlin stated that a policymaker's responsibility is to prioritise the overall well-being of the country.
She explained that Ramaswamy believes the regulations governing the US energy sector are severely flawed, yet he still relies on water and electricity, emphasising that this is the same situation.
Despite having immigrant parents himself, Ramaswamy has gained attention for his strict stance on immigration policies.
In addition, he expressed his willingness to utilise military force in order to secure the border and to deport children born in the US to undocumented immigrants.
The demand for H-1B visas remains high, with US businesses submitting 780,884 applications for only 85,000 available slots in fiscal year 2021, representing a significant increase of over 60 per cent.
During his opening remarks at the first Republican debate in Milwaukee, Ramaswamy acknowledged his personal experience with immigration.
He shared, "My parents immigrated to this country four decades ago with no money. Since then, I have successfully established multi-billion-dollar companies."
Ramaswamy's perspective on H-1B visas reflects the approach taken during the 2016 Donald Trump campaign.
Back then, Trump, who has also employed numerous foreign workers through H-1B visas for his businesses, initially held a strict stance on these workers before later softening his rhetoric.
During his presidency, Trump implemented a temporary suspension on new work visas and prevented hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from obtaining employment in the United States.
This was part of his comprehensive effort to reduce the influx of immigrants into the country.
Annually, the US grants 65,000 H-1B visas that are available to all individuals, as well as an additional 20,000 visas for those with advanced degrees from American institutions.
Currently, a significant majority of H-1B visas are granted to professionals from India.
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