IT industry under stress over US govt visa policy

IT industry under stress over US govt visa policy

IT industry under stress over US govt visa policy

The country’s IT industry is under tremendous pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administrative decision to temporarily suspend fast-track processing of H1-B visas and growing attacks on Indians there.

The US has a sizeable presence of Indian immigrant population of around 25 lakh and out of that about six lakh are H1-B visa holders, working mainly in IT and healthcare industries.

The decision of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to suspend the processing of premium visas comes at a time when India’s $150-billion IT outsourcing industry is going through a tough phase with business and technology changes.

Nasscom President R Chandrasekhar said suspending the priority process is not new and it has been done earlier. “But the difference this time is that the duration is up to six months. Also, it will be applicable to more categories of priority visa, including for extention and transfers,” he said.

Realising the gravity of the situation, a delegation led by Nasscom officials recently visited Washington for a four-day trip. Nasscom Chairman C P Gurnani and Chandrasekhar led the team to interact with policymakers in the Congress, the Trump administration, and important allies from the US industry. The visit comes after the US government proposed key changes in immigration law including doubling the minimum salaries of H1-B visa holders to $130,000, a move that could possibly burn a hole in the pockets of many IT firms.

Lauding the candid and substantive meeting with the officials, Chandrasekhar said it is clear that the IT sector has more work to do in educating US policymakers on the mutual benefits of strong India-US trade in IT services.

Further dialogue
“In some cases, those benefits and the actual workings of the visa programmes are not well understood. That said, we remain hopeful that further dialogue between the government and business leaders in both nations will lead to a better understanding of the high-skill visa issues, which will in turn, inform constructive reforms,” he said.

Commenting on the development, Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy said there is no need to be panicked. “Nasscom and the government are in discussion with the relevant people,” he said in an email response to DH.

Chairman of Manipal Global Education and Aarin Capital Partners Chairman Mohandas Pai said H1-B premium processing is not a major issue. “Growing attacks is a concern and the government should handle this,” he said.

Every year, the USCIS issues  85,000 H1-B visas, most of which are taken up by Indian tech firms. Out of total 65,000 H1-B visas issued in 2014, TCS leads globally with the allocation of 8.69% of them, followed by Infosys (5.31%), Wipro (4.69%) and Tech Mahindra (2.74%).
DH News Service

Nasscom will take up attacks’ issue with PM
Nasscom President R Chandrasekhar said that if Indian employees are continued to be victimised in the US, it will take up the issue with the Modi-led government. “It is a matter of concern. Our heart goes to the victims and their family. It is something which US authorities should stem it urgently. This issue is also adding and heightening the uncertainity in the business,” he said.  Chandrasekhar said the government should take up this matter. “If such incidents persist, we will certainly take up the issue with the government,” he said.

The Nasscom president also said the US law makers and business community were at  pains and condemned these kinds of incidents and conveyed their condolences.

“They considered these incidents as aberrations and they reassured such incidents will not happen,” he said.