USCIS reaches FY 2020 H-1B regular cap in five days, visa approvals to Indian IT down 49%

Infosys registered the highest number of denials at 26%, followed by HCL America, TCS, Tech Mahindra Americas and Wipro. This was over the time …
The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B visa petitions since 1st April to reach the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap for fiscal year 2020. Now, the USCIS will next determine if it has received sufficient petitions to meet the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap.

H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, are exempt from the FY 2020 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to extend the amount of time a current H -1B worker may remain in the United States, change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers, allow current H-1B workers to change employers, and allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

Visa approvals to Indian companies declined by 49% last year, with only 22,429 visas granted to the top five IT firms as against 43.957 in 2017, as per a research report by CARE ratings. The median salaries for these companies were in the range of USD 74,000-90,000. Infosys registered the highest number of denials at 26%, followed by HCL America, TCS, Tech Mahindra Americas and Wipro. This was over the time period, 1st Oct’17-30th Sept’18.

In FY18, USCIS received H-1B petitions were received from about 207 countries. Out of the total 419,637 petitions received during the year, 73.9% were from India. In FY18, a total of 331,098 H-1B petitions were approved. The maximum number of visas were allotted to Cognizant Tech Solutions US Corp, TCS, Infosys, Deloitte Consulting and Microsoft Corporation, which cumulatively received 33,576 approvals. These include both initial and continuing employment.

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Lyft Stock Suffers That Sinking Feeling as Investors Focus on Losses

After its debut, Lyft is starting to look like a bad bet. The company recently went public at $72, above the original range of $62 to $68, but the shares, …

Before its initial public offering, Lyft’s story was about strong revenue growth and the big opportunity for ride-hailing companies to disrupt traditional car ownership. Investors now wonder how and when Lyft can become profitable, given that it lost over $900 million on $2.2 billion of revenue in 2018. Analysts are projecting some $1 billion in losses this year, even as expected revenue tops $3 billion. Barron’s argued in an article before the Lyft deal that investors should stay away.

Guggenheim’s Jake Fuller initiated coverage of Lyft (ticker: LYFT) on Monday, with a Neutral rating. “We simply have to look too far out with too many big assumptions in order to make a case for the stock,” he wrote, noting that he sees four “paths to profitability—cut driver pay, turn off incentives, reduce insurance costs, or shift to self-driving cars. The first two would be tough in a highly competitive category, the third might not be enough by itself, and the fourth is likely 10 years out.” He doesn’t see profitability until 2023.

One risk is pressure from drivers to pay them more after Lyft took a bigger chunk of bookings—the total amount spent on rides—in the past two years. Then there are possible initiatives to reclassify drivers as employees and pay them minimum wages, rather than treating them as independent contractors.

Without profits, analysts are valuing Lyft based on revenue. But using that metric, the company doesn’t look cheap, trading for over five times estimated 2019 revenue—even after giving it credit for $4 billion in cash and short-term investments. With Lyft effectively subsidizing customers, it’s better to be a rider than a stockholder.

Stocks Roll Along

Manufacturing picked up in China and the U.S., while it sagged in Europe, notably Germany. U.S. wages and energy costs ticked higher. And March saw a bounce in jobs, adding 196,000. Stocks, with the yield curve righting itself, ignored President Trump’s complaints about the Fed and had a strong week. The Dow industrials rose 1.91%, to 26,424.99; the S&P 500 soared 2.06%, to 2892.74; and the Nasdaq Composite rose 2.71%, to 7938.69.

Border Wars

The president ordered foreign aid to be cut to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, saying they had encouraged migration to the U.S. He also threatened to close the border with Mexico. Both steps stirred protests. Congress had appropriated the aid, and shutting the border would hurt the U.S. Trump pulled back from a shutdown, but threatened to impose auto tariffs, or worse, if Mexico didn’t do something in a year.

The Fight Over Mueller

Attorney General William Barr wrote again about the Mueller report, saying his initial letter was not a “summary” of the report and that he’d hand over a redacted version to the House Judiciary Committee in mid-April. Judiciary had demanded the report by April 2, and voted a day later to subpoena the full document. Some on Mueller’s team reportedly said Barr failed to accurately characterize their findings.

Oversight on Clearances

An 18-year veteran of the White House’s security clearance operation told the House Oversight Committee that the office reversed rulings and gave clearances to 25 administration officials, including two senior officials still working in the White House. Oversight Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings said he would subpoena the former head of the clearance office and that the White House was refusing to respond to requests for information.

Trade Talks, Round 6

Chinese officials came to Washington for the sixth round of trade talks. Tariffs remain at the center of the discussions. Trump said talks are going well, and both sides are aiming for a deal in the next month.

Brexit, Some Day

Despite a hard Brexit looming on April 12, the House of Commons can’t stop saying “no.” Four alternative plans were defeated on Monday, with one, under which the U.K.would stay in a European Union customs union, losing by three votes. Prime Minister Theresa May then shifted tactics, opening negotiations with the Labour Party and seeking an extension from the EU until June 30, meaning the U.K. will participate in European elections.

Inside Aramco

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant, Saudi Aramco, revealed its results for the first time in a prospectus for a $10 billion bond sale, which it will use to buy Saudi Basic Industries Corp. from a Saudi sovereign wealth fund. The bond sale is viewed as a possible precursor to Aramco’s initial public offering.

Raising Cain and Moore

Trump reaffirmed his support for Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation fellow, for the Federal Reserve Board, despite reports of tax, alimony, and child-support problems from a messy divorce. Trump also nominated former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and presidential candidate Herman Cain for the Fed’s last open seat.

–Robert Teitelman and Dan Lam

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Freshman congressman: Axing Office of Tech Assessment made us ‘dumber as a nation’

Freshman congressman: Axing Office of Tech Assessment made us … on the implications of emerging technology, without any of the salesman hype.

Think tanks, members of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress and even the Commerce Department’s inspector general have all weighed in on whether bringing back the Office of Technology Assessment makes sense.

At a House Appropriations legislative branch subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Sean Casten (D-Ill.) argued that OTA wouldn’t overlap with the roles occupied by Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service, but would instead prevent lawmakers from pursuing “dead end” technologies.

Casten, who holds a degree in chemical engineering, previously worked as a consultant for Arthur D. Little, a firm with a focus on clean energy technology.

In that role, Casten said he relied on OTA reports to provide an unbiased analysis on the state of certain technologies. However, Congress defunded OTA in 1995, “stripping Congress of a valuable resource,” Takano said.

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Without OTA overseeing science and technology efforts, Casten said lawmakers run the risk of “reinventing the wheel,” funding private research in fields that have proven unproductive in the past.

“The collective knowledge has fallen short because now the knowledge is done in these pockets that don’t get shared,” Casten said. “There were things that we knew and objective questions that could be asked that are now no longer part of the collective wisdom, if you will, and I would submit to you that has had the practical impact of making us dumber as a nation.”

But the bid from lawmakers to bring back OTA has coincided with GAO staffing up its own science and technology capabilities. By the end of this year, it’ll grow its information technology and cybersecurity team from 140 employees to 175.

Comptroller General Gene Dodaro told the subcommittee in February he also hoped to expand the agency’s Science, Technology, Assessment and Analytics Team from 70 employees to 140 employees.

“This expanded capacity at GAO is an important step, but it really is not sufficient,” Takano said. “A restored OTA would complement GAO, as well as CRS, by combining deep technical expertise and robust forward-looking reports with the ability to be responsive to immediate questions and the needs of members and staff.”

GAO gets an average of about 800 requests a year from Congress, and gives priority to reviews mandated by law, or conference reports, followed by requests from congressional committee leadership.

“To get a GAO study, there’s a lot of hoops you’ve got to jump through. You’ve got to get a bipartisan letter and hopefully significant members of Congress to sign onto the letter,” Takano said.

The legislative branch doesn’t lack for watchdog offices. In addition to GAO and CRS, it also contains the Congressional Budget Office. However, Casten told subcommittee members that a revived OTA would address current gaps in oversight.

“CRS will opine on what other people have said,” Casten said, and can brief members on the current state of policy issues, but it can’t answer more open-ended questions, like, for example, what limitations the airline industry faces if it were to move away from fossil fuels.

“Those are objective questions, but CRS isn’t set up to answer them very well. They don’t really have the tools that OTA did and we relied on that,” he said.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) questioned whether a renewed OTA could provide better insight into the state of technology than private industry. She also questioned how soon OTA could staff up with experts to justify restoring the office.

“The stuff we have in-house, generally we have challenges,” Beutler said. “People get siloed and we’re not known for being quick, we’re not known for being the most technologically advanced, and we’re certainly not known for being the most customer friendly.”

Casten said OTA plays a unique role in providing “forward-looking analysis” of complex technical issues, while also understanding how Congress works.

“What OTA provided and what I really valued from OTA was not their speed. What I valued was their objectivity, and it’s very hard to get information from the private sector that’s objective,” he said.

The push to restore OTA comes at a time when members have held hearings on a range of issues, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

Takano said OTA, if restored, would give real insight on the implications of emerging technology, without any of the salesman hype.

“People are coming to me with proposals to do blockchain technology for voting systems,” Takano said. “What do we know about blockchain technology? Who do we trust?”

In an early version of the FY 2019 spending bill for the legislative branch, Takano and other lawmakers pushed for $2.5 million in funding to bring back OTA. But to fully staff up the agency, Takano estimated it would take about $35 million, which “wouldn’t have to come all at once.”

Subcommittee Chairman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said the subcommittee would do its best to incorporate Takano and Casten’s requests for funding OTA into the FY 2020 spending bill, but warned that it would be “wrestling with our other subcommittees for any new funding.”

Copyright © 2019 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

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SEC Disclosure Rule Puts Hedging Policies In Spotlight

The new rule implements Section 14(j) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 … The disclosure requirement extends to equity securities of parent and …

By Laura AnthonyApril 4, 2019, 2:29 PM EDT

Law360 (April 4, 2019, 2:29 PM EDT) — In December 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved a final rule that requires companies to disclose any hedging policies governing company equity securities in their proxy and information statements…

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Senators bullish on robocall bill

In defense of Section 230: One tech trade group is launching a new campaign to defend the industry’s cherished liability protections enshrined by the …

With help from John Hendel, Steven Overly, Margaret Harding McGill and Jordyn Hermani

Editor’s Note: This edition of Morning Tech is published weekdays at 10 a.m. POLITICO Pro Technology subscribers hold exclusive early access to the newsletter each morning at 6 a.m. To learn more about POLITICO Pro’s comprehensive policy intelligence coverage, policy tools and services, click here.

QUICK FIX

Story Continued Below

— Robocall bill on deck: Senate lawmakers today will mark up legislation aimed at curtailing unwanted robocalls — and its co-sponsors are bullish on its prospects in the chamber.

— Net neutrality latest: A Democratic measure to reinstate the Obama-era net neutrality rules will face a key committee vote today, the latest hurdle ahead of an anticipated floor vote.

— In defense of Section 230: One tech trade group is launching a new campaign to defend the industry’s cherished liability protections enshrined by the Communications Decency Act.

**A message from CTIA and America’s wireless industry: Learn how a National Spectrum Strategy will create millions of jobs, add billions to our economy, and ensure U.S. 5G leadership, at CTIA.org.**

GREETINGS AND WELCOME TO MORNING TECH, where your co-hosts are soliciting recommendations for the best pasta in town. Got a news tip? Drop us a line at clima@politico.com or @viaCristiano and alevine@politico.com or @Ali_Lev. Don’t forget to follow us @MorningTech. And catch the rest of the team’s contact info after Quick Downloads.

Have an event for MT’s tech calendar? Email us the details at techcalendar@politicopro.com.

Driving the Day

SENATORS BULLISH ON ROBOCALL BILL — The two senators behind a widely backed bill to curtail unwanted robocalls expect the measure to clear the full chamber after facing a markup before the Senate Commerce Committee today. The TRACED Act, co-sponsored by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), would allow the FCC to impose penalties of up to $10,000 per robocall and extend the period the agency can take enforcement action to three years after a call is made. “We think there is a real deterrent if you have the threat of criminal prosecution,” Thune told Fox News on Tuesday. Spokespeople for both Thune and Markey said they are optimistic about the markup and any future floor vote.

— Gone without a TRACED: Markey and consumer protection advocates will rally in favor of the measure at a Consumer Reports event on Capitol Hill this afternoon. “This onslaught of robocalls has rattled consumers’ confidence in their mobile devices,” Markey is expected to say, according to prepared remarks shared with MT. “Robocalls are a menace.” As of late Tuesday, the bill had 22 co-sponsors, including Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and consumer protection subcommittee Chair Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and ranking member Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

ALSO: NET NEUTRALITY FACES COMMITTEE VOTEDemocrats’ Save the Internet Act, H.R. 1644, which would revive Obama-era net neutrality rules, is up for a House Energy and Commerce Committee vote this morning ahead of a likely House floor vote next week. As John reports this morning, the caucus seems to be coalescing under pressure from leadership, with everyone from more senior holdouts to junior progressives on board (41 of the 59 freshman Democrats are signed onto the bill so far, out of 181 total co-sponsors). “It’s probably a generational thing,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one such freshman lawmaker, told POLITICO.

— Who’s not on board so far: any Republicans, who side with broadband providers concerned about heavy government regulation. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), ranking member on E&C, said to expect three GOP counterproposals filed as amendments and “probably some others” this morning. “This doesn’t have the feel of being a very bipartisan effort,” Walden told John on Tuesday, predicting the partisan nature may hurt the measure’s overall prospects.

— One sliver of bipartisanship? Key lawmakers were negotiating Tuesday on whether they could agree to a bipartisan amendment exempting small broadband providers from the net neutrality rules’ transparency reporting requirements. In previous deals, lawmakers set an exemption for ISPs with fewer than 250,000 subscribers, but now Democrats “want to drop the [subscriber] numbers dramatically” for those exempted ISPs, Walden lamented. Telecom subcommittee chair Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) confirmed negotiations Tuesday on possible bipartisan accord: “We’re talking to see if that’s possible.”

FIRST IN MT:TALK 230 TO ME — E-commerce trade group NetChoice is ramping up its defense of a law that shields companies like Google and Facebook from lawsuits over content on their platforms. The new initiative, called Protect Online Voices, is part of the right-leaning association’s effort to challenge critics who argue tech firms no longer deserve the broad immunity afforded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The campaign has debuted as a website with information about the law and statements from advocacy groups and lawmakers who back Section 230, including Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (Calif). It will supplement lobbying that NetChoice and other groups already have underway on the Hill.

— The internet industry is hustling to defend Section 230 after Congress passed a law last year making websites liable for facilitating sex trafficking. Both Democrats and Republicans have flirted with additional changes to the law to, for instance, make internet companies more accountable for online opioid sales or restrict them from censoring political speech. Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, argues that the law is what empowers companies to remove problematic material in the first place. “Before we consider doing anything to undermine that, I think it’s important for people to know what it is,” he said.

PAI, J-RO ON DECK BEFORE HOUSE APPROPRIATORSTune in at 1:30 p.m. for the FCC’s fiscal year 2020 budget hearing before the House Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will testify about the agency’s airwaves and broadband efforts, while Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is ready with harsher words: “So many people think that Washington is rigged against them. It saddens me that with this budget and with the actions of the FCC during the past two years—it appears they are right.”

KENNEDY SIDES WITH UTILITIES ON AIRWAVES FIGHTSen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee determining FCC funding, wrote to Pai this week to complain about the agency’s proceeding aimed at determining whether the 6 GHz band of wireless spectrum can be shared. Kennedy is “concerned” the FCC notice “does not adequately balance the public interest in protecting” utilities, he told Pai.

— And will Kennedy summon Pai for a budget review hearing? “We’re going to probably have a hearing, but I haven’t made a decision,” Kennedy told John on Tuesday.

YOU NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY — The Semiconductor Industry Association today is unveiling a set of policy recommendations it says will help the U.S. stay ahead in the global chip market and make strides with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and 5G. The blueprint asks for billions in federal funding to further innovative scientific research, nurture the workforce through STEM education and promote free trade and open markets overseas. “Underlying all these transformative technologies are semiconductors,” the group’s president and CEO, John Neuffer, told MT. “We’ve been in the lead for the last 50 years, and we want to make sure for the next 50 years we’re also in the lead.”

— Dozens of representatives from the group’s member companieswill meet to discuss the policy outline today with lawmakers including Sens.Susan Collins (R-Maine), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). The push comes amid growing concern about technological competition abroad, particularly from China, and heightened focus on the U.S. maintaining its place as the frontrunner. “While the rest of the world is ramping up its public investments in basic research, in the United States, it’s going the other direction; it’s been stumbling along, flat or negative for the last couple of decades,” Neuffer said.

Transitions

— Zac Champ, former vice president of government affairs at the Wireless Infrastructure Association, is joining the FCC’s consumer and governmental affairs bureau as chief of staff.

Silicon Valley Must Reads

— ICYMI: Prison phone services companies Securus Technologies and ICSolutions abandoned their merger after the FCC signaled it would deny the deal, Margaret reports for Pro.

— Warning signs: YouTube execs ignored suggestions to curb conspiracies and toxic videos in favor of engagement, Bloomberg reports.

— Elsewhere in California: The Justice Department warned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that changing rules around the eligibility of Netflix and other streaming services to win the Oscars could raise antitrust issues, via Variety.

Quick Downloads

— O’Really? Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly explains his support for an FCC proposal to explore a spending cap on telecom subsidies aimed at expanding broadband access.

— Starks’ truth: Democratic FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks looks to answer “why it’s so easy for a bounty hunter to find you,” in a New York Times op-ed.

— Double-check: WhatsApp launched a fact-checking service to combat fake news in India, Reuters reports.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Eric Engleman (eengleman@politico.com, @ericengleman), Kyle Daly (kdaly@politico.com, @dalykyle), Nancy Scola (nscola@politico.com, @nancyscola), Margaret Harding McGill (mmcgill@politico.com, @margarethmcgill), Steven Overly (soverly@politico.com, @stevenoverly), John Hendel (jhendel@politico.com, @JohnHendel), Cristiano Lima (clima@politico.com, @viaCristiano), Alexandra S. Levine (alevine@politico.com, @Ali_Lev) and Jordyn Hermani (jhermani@politico.com, @JordynHermani).

**A message from CTIA and America’s wireless industry: America’s wireless industry leads the world in 5G deployments, and by year’s end we will have twice as many 5G deployments as any other nation from Harrison County, Mississippi and Indianapolis, Indiana to Los Angeles, California. But the race is not over. To secure our leadership, we need a National Spectrum Strategy that recommits to proven free market approaches, creates a clear schedule to put more high-, mid- and low-band spectrum in the hands of America’s wireless industry, and modernizes government spectrum policies. This will unleash a spectrum stimulus creating 1.8 million jobs and adding $391 billion to our economy—ensuring our 5G leadership and helping America lead the industries of the future. Learn more at CTIA.org.**