As the United States government plans to formulate new rules to curb H-1B visa extensions, experts and industry leaders in India believe the move could hurt American prospects as well. They say if it happens at all, the affected workforce would definitely contribute to India's economic rise at a time when it's racing against Asian superpowers like China and Japan.
As part of US President Donald Trump's campaign to 'Buy American and Hire American', the US government has taken a series of measures to curb foreign workforce entry ever since Trump's Republican Party came to power in the country. Reports say the US Department of Homeland Security is not only planning to frame regulations to prevent H-1B visa extensions during pendency of green card approvals but is also formulating new law to change the definition of visa-dependent companies.
Though the move is seen as detrimental for the Indian workforce awaiting green card approval in the US, it could also create a shortage of skilled workers in America in core fields like science and technology. "It is not only about the Indian IT industry but about all Indians who use H-1B visas... Given that there is a real problem of shortage of skilled professionals in the US, any disruptive move will be detrimental for both India and the US," Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar said.
However, Mahindra Group chief Anand Mahindra, whose company Tech Mahindra has a huge business interest in the US and his company hires over 2,000 people in that country, indicated the move would only help India "rise". "If that happens, then I say Swagatam, Welcome Home. Youre coming back in time to help India Rise," said Anand.
Many believe fear of the US tightening the noose around H-1B visa rules could also lead to "self-deportation" of thousands of Indian workers, particularly software engineers employed by IT services companies. They also see it as a larger shift in the foreign policies of most western powers, including UK, other countries of the EU, which are putting up protectionist barriers to scale up domestic job opportunities.
Compounding the troubles for the Indian tech sector is another US Bill -- Protect and Grow American Jobs (HR170) -- that proposes new restrictions to prevent misuse and abuse of H-1B visas. It tightens the definition of visa-dependent companies, and imposes fresh curbs in terms of minimum salary and movement of talent. Visa dependent companies will have to raise the minimum salary for H-1B visa holders from USD 60,000 to USD 90,000 under the proposed Bill. Also, it places the onus on clients to certify that the visa holder is not displacing an existing employee for a tenure of 5-6 years.
This bill has been passed by the House Judiciary Committee and is now headed for the US Senate. Nasscom has been of the view that this proposed legislation has conditions which are extremely onerous and will make it very difficult for people to not just get the visa but also on how these work permits can be used.
With PTI inputs