The Ultimate Flip: Ramaswamy Wants to End the H-1B Visa Program

Republican Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy wants to do away with the H-1B Visa Program, even though his company has used the program 29 times. 

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to hire workers from other countries with specialized skills to work in the United States. 

Highly Sought After by Indian IT Professionals

The visa is highly sought-after by many Indian IT professionals. It allows American companies to hire workers in countries like India or China, among others.

Occupations that qualify for the H-1B visa are typically in fields that require technical knowledge and expertise in areas such as technology, healthcare, finance, and engineering. 

Typically, the roles require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and the visa is granted for a specific period of time.

“Indentured Servitude”

Ramaswamy, who is Indian-American, called the program “indentured servitude.” However, Ramaswamy’s company has used the program 29 times.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 29 applications for Ramaswamy’s former company, Roivant Sciences, to hire employees under H-1B visas, from 2018 through 2023.

Yet, the H-1B system is “bad for everyone involved,” Ramaswamy was quoted as saying by Politico. He said he would replace it with meritocratic admission if he wins the general election in 2024.

“Eliminate Chain-Based Migration”

“The lottery system needs to be replaced by actual 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 said in a statement, adding that the US needs to eliminate chain-based migration.

“The people who come as family members are not the meritocratic immigrants who make skills-based contributions to this country.”

Tricia McLaughlin, a senior advisor for Ramawamy’s campaign said the role of a policymaker “is to do what’s right for a country overall: the system is broken and needs to be fixed.” 

“Vivek believes that regulations overseeing the U.S. energy sector are badly broken, but he still uses water and electricity,” she said in a statement. “This is the same.” 

Other Controversial Statements

Ramaswamy, the son of Indian immigrants has made a number of hardline statements before, including supporting the ideas of sending the military to Mexico and deporting American-born children of undocumented immigrants.

Ramaswamy stepped down as chief executive officer of Roivant in February 2021. He remained the chair of the company’s board of directors until February 2023 when he announced his presidential campaign.

Lagging in the Polls

Ramaswamy has some work to do when it comes to his position in the polls. 

Former President Donald Trump is still a frontrunner on the Republican side. While Ramaswamy’s popularity has surged, with some polls showing him edging out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, he is still far behind Trump in the polls.

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