Weeks after US claimed that India accounted for 74.2 per cent of the total number of H-1B visas issued in 2016, Nasscom Chairman Rishad Premji on Sunday said that it is important to 'separate the sentiment from the fact' regarding the visas. He said that out of 65,000 H1B visas issued every year, Indian IT firms use less than 10,000 and 70 per cent of visas go to Indians but they do not go to Indian companies.
Premji said this while speaking at the NASSCOM C-Summit. "I think it is important to separate the sentiment from the fact, Premji told PTI.
Referring to a report from the Department of Labour, the Nasscom Chairman said that by 2020 there will be shortage of 2.4 million people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) talent in the US, and half of these will be in the computer and IT related services. He stressed that it is important to keep in mind that there is a base of seven million people in the technology space in the US. "We are talking about 10,000 people on a seven million strong base," he added.
US President Donald Trump has tightened the process of issuing H1-B visas to cut down the numbers of foreign IT professionals in America. Trump wants the IT companies to hire more local citizens instead of placing Indians in US on H1-B visa. This year in February, the Trump administration announced a new visa policy that made the procedure of issuing H-1B visas even more difficult. The administration has proposed many amendments to the H1B visa rules to make it tougher.
However, Premji said that legislatively, nothing has changed regarding the H1-B visas. He said that there are several proposals on the issue but they will not go through in their current form. It is difficult to get the both the Senate and the House to pass off those proposals, Premji said.
Soon after taking over office in 2016, Donald Trump announced to change H1B visa policy to what he called a move to prevent fraud and abuse of work visas. Earlier, the Department of Homeland Security sought to end the provision of allowing extensions to H-1B visa holders whose applications for green card had been accepted.
Under the existing laws in the US, foreign professionals having an H-1B visa can remain in the US for up to six years. It is initially for three years but can be extended for additional three years. However, under new proposed amendments, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS may limit the duration to less than three years in case the companies or the applicants fail in meeting the criteria.
In a report released this month, the USCIS said that in 2016, IT professionals from India accounted for 74.2 per cent of the total number of H-1B visas issued by the US and the next year the figure increased to 75.6 per cent. According to a US think tank - National Foundation for American Policy, top seven Indian IT firms recorded a whopping 43 per cent drop in their H-1B visa approvals between 2015 and 2017.
(With inputs from PTI)