Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris

US vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris on H-1B visas

While running for president last year, the senator had promised to lift the per-country cap on employment based green cards if elected.

When it comes to issues concerning immigrant visas for highly-skilled workers (H1-B) Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris’s opinions align with former Vice-President and presidential candidate Joe Biden. She has consistently stood for immigrant safety and non-discrimination since the time she was elected as a junion senator from California.

Her most important statement on the issue of H-1B visas came in November 2019, when she was running her presidential campaign in hopes of securing the Democratic nomination. She is now Biden’s running mate for the upcoming elections in November. Joe Biden has promised to reform the immigrant work visa system if elected.

Kamala Harris had said that she was in favour of lifting the per-country ceiling on employment-based green cards available for immigrant workers (H1-B visas). Asserting that around 95% of those who are in line for green cards are from China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam, her campaign had said, “Kamala believes we must do more to eliminate discriminatory backlogs and protect immigrant workers so they can stay in our country and continue to contribute to the economy.” Her campaign added that as president, she will clear the backlogs in the family visa category as part of her plan for a fair immigration system.

Since 2017, she has been vocal about the rights of immigrants. She said that immigrants form about 10% of California’s workforce and contribute around 130 billion US dollars to the state’s GDP.

In September 2018, Kamala Harris wrote to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on H-4 visas, which largely impacts highly-skilled immigrant women (dependent visas). In her letter, Senator Kamala Harris urged the departments not to revoke the employment authorisation for around one lakh women covered under H-4 visas after a court filing revealed that the government was actively considering a proposal to remove the authorisation. Kamala Harris wrote the letter in collaboration with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and said that preventing women from working can lead to issues such as isolation, depression and loss of self-worth. “Increased isolation – coupled with complete financial dependence — can make leaving an abusive relationship dangerous and, in some cases, impossible,” they wrote.

Adding that independence and equal opportunity are fundamental American values, the senators continued, “An action to deprive spousal H-4 visa holders the ability to continue to pursue their professional careers is antithetical to principles this country is built on. We urge you to consider the economic, psychological, and personal harms that rescinding the H-4 rule will cause to more than 100,000 professional women, their families, and their American communities.”

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