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Indian-American presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy vows to 'gut' H-1B visa system despite using it 29 times

Ramaswamy suggested that the H-1B system should be replaced by an "action meritocratic admission", terming the former as 'indentured service'.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Washington Published on: September 17, 2023 16:29 IST
Indian-American presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy
Image Source : AP Indian-American presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy

Indian-origin US presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy has promised to 'gut' the H-1B visa programme primarily used by Indian IT professional services to enter America, calling it an "indentured service". Interestingly, Ramaswamy has used the programme.

The H-1B programme is a lottery-based non-immigrant visa system that allows employers to hire foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. This system is sought by thousands of employees in India and China, especially Indian IT professionals.

The H-1B provisions are aimed towards helping employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the US workforce by authorising the temporary employment of qualified individuals who would not otherwise be allowed to work in the country, according to the Department of Labor.

The 38-year-old Ramaswamy, a major entrepreneur in America, has used the H-1B provisions at least 29 times by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for his former company Roivant Sciences from 2018 to 2023.

H-1B system bad for everyone involved: Ramaswamy

In a statement, the Indian-American presidential aspirant suggested that the H-1B system should be replaced by an "action meritocratic admission". "It’s a form of indentured servitude that only accrues to the benefit of the company that sponsored an H-1B immigrant. I’ll gut it," he added.

He further said that the people who are coming to the US as family members are not the meritocratic immigrants making "skills-based contributions" to the country. He also said that the US should end chain-based migration and vowed to use military force to secure the border, deporting US-born children of undocumented migrants.

Ramaswamy resigned as CEO of Roivant in 2021, but remained the chair of the company's board of directors until this year when he announced his presidential campaign. The company has 904 full-time employees, including 825 as of March 31. 

Ramaswamy had previously quoted by Politico as saying that the system was "bad for everyone involved". A few days ago, he had acknowledged his own experience with immigration at the first Republican debate in Milwaukee.

Trump's stance on immigrants

Ramaswamy's stance on H-1B immigrants mimics a lot of what Trump has stood by in his term as the President. trump, who also hired several foreign workers under H-1B for his businesses, took a hardline stance later on such workers during his 2016 campaign.

After becoming President, Trump temporarily suspended new work visas and blocked hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from US employment in his efforts to limit the flow of migrants in America.

The US gives 65,000 H-1B visas annually that are open to all and 20,000 to those with advanced US degrees. Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, on the other hand, proposed a bill in July to double the intake of highly skilled foreign workers on H-1B work visas.

Around three-fourths of H-1B visas go to Indian professionals, especially workers in the field of information technology.

(with PTI inputs)

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