HCL Technologies on Friday termed the suspension of H1-B visas by the US as "unfortunate", and said the move will have "minimal impact" on the IT services major in the short term, as it has been ramping up local hiring in that country for the past 10 years.
"We started investing in the centres in the US 10 years back, we have 15 scaled delivery centres in the US. We were one of the first to increase localisation, close to 67 per cent of our employees in the US are locals. "This is the trend, which we really pioneered in the industry and now we see several other players are following," HCL Technologies President and CEO C Vijayakumar said.
He added that the company has adequate people in the US on visas to fulfill demand. "However, the rules, I would say, are unfortunate, but given that we've always been prepared and kind of enhancing our local footprint not just in US but across all geographies, we see very minimal impact due to the current change in policy at least in the near term," he said.
He added that if it were to continue in the long term, the company may have to "relook at how we address the demand". Asked about the future recourse if the suspension were to extend beyond December, Vijayakumar told that it would depend on the customers.
"Today, we can deliver any service from anywhere in the world. Largely, that's the model that we have adopted. And we've been able to collaborate extensively with customers across continents, across time zones and customers have also become very comfortable about this operating model.
"So, to that extent, I think the onshore demand will be a little muted, so I think it will be fine," he said. The executive, however, said some tweaking may be needed on how it operates as it gets into the next year. HCL Technologies, which has over 1.5 lakh employees globally at the end of June 2020 quarter, saw 63.7 per cent of its revenues come from the Americas market.
Europe accounted for 28.3 per cent of its USD 2.3 billion revenue in the June quarter, while rest of the world geography contributed 8 per cent of the quarter's revenue. Last month, US President Donald Trump had signed a proclamation to suspend issuing of H-1B visas -- popular among Indian IT professionals -- along with other foreign work visas for the rest of the year, aimed at helping millions of Americans who have lost their jobs due to the current economic crisis.
Larger rival Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) had called the move by the US government "unfortunate and unfair". Asked if HCL Technologies has also taken steps to bring back employees stranded in the US, Vijayakumar said the company has undertaken similar steps but declined to give out numbers.
"We're very sensitive to our people's requirements and we've helped them, we've enabled them to go back to their respective countries. The numbers, it varies in different geographies, some geographies are very small numbers, some geographies are slightly large," he said. HCL's peers - Infosys, Tech Mahindra and Wipro have chartered special flights to bring home hundreds of staff and their families from the US and other markets as many individuals were stranded in the US after international flights were suspended following the coronavirus virus outbreak and the resultant lockdown.
Infosys brought back over 200 people, while Tech Mahindra facilitated return of over 210 of its employees and their dependents and Wipro about 500 people.