'Revamp of lottery system for H-1B visas worrisome'

Nasscom warns of unintended consequences

'Revamp of lottery system for H-1B visas worrisome'

Industry body Nasscom on Wednesday warned that the US’ move to replace the lottery system for issuing H-1B work visas with a merit-based approach could have “unintended consequences” even as it sought to downplay any immediate impact on IT companies this year.

Under a new executive order signed by US President Donald Trump, America is reviewing its visa programme for foreign workers, while ensuring a crackdown on visa abuse and frauds.

The H-1B visa programme is most sought-after by Indian IT firms and professionals to work on customer sites. Every year, the US grants 65,000 H-1B visas, while another 20,000 are set aside for those with US advanced degrees.

“No new changes are being implemented immediately... Nothing is being proposed that would impact or change the FY18 H-1B lottery that is currently underway,” Nasscom said in a statement.

Any change in visa norms can affect the movement of labour as well as spike operational costs for IT players. Most Indian IT companies get over 60% of their revenues from the North American market.

The Indian government, on its part, has said it will take up the issue with the American authorities during the upcoming visit of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to the US.

“These (IT industry issues) are matters of discussion with the appropriate authorities there. Once I do discuss and get an opportunity, I will let you know,” he told reporters when asked whether he would take up the concerns of the Indian IT sector with the US administration.

Assocham also expressed concern over the tightening of the visa norms.

No major impact

Nasscom also said that the Australian government’s move to eliminate the 457 visa category would not have a major impact on visas granted to Indian IT workers. “It is a surprise and seems to have been driven by domestic political compulsions where we are seeing immigration as a matter of huge political concern within the current geo political environment,” Nasscom said in a statement. Australia has abolished a visa programme — 457 visa —used by over 95,000 temporary foreign workers, majority of them Indians, to tackle the growing unemployment in the country.

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