Even as Indian IT industry’s representative body Nasscom on Wednesday said there will be no impact of the changed norms for H-1B visas under President Donald Trumps ‘Buy American, Hire American campaign, industries’ lobby Assocham says IT companies are headed for disruption. “Nothing is being proposed that would impact or change the FY 2018 H-1B lottery (system) that is underway. No new changes are being implemented immediately,” said the apex National Association of Software Services and Companies (Nasscom) in a statement here.
In contrast, Assocham said that “nearly 86 per cent of the H-1B visas issued for workers in the computer space go to Indians and this figure is now sure to be scaled down to about 60 per cent or even less.” Asserting that the proposed changes were forward-looking and non-specific, Nasscom said the campaign to discredit the IT sector was driven by persistent myths that H-1B visa holders were “cheap labour” and “displace American workers”, which was not accurate.
“The President’s Tuesday order directs the federal bureaucracy to enforce visa law vigorously and study new ways to reform and restrict the H-1B system,” reiterated Nasscom.
After signing the order, Trump asked his Secretary of State, Attorney General, Labor Secretary and Homeland Secretary to propose new rules and issue new guidance to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance to protect the interests of the US workers.
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President Trump also asked his top officials to suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas were awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid beneficiaries.
Because of the changes, remittances from the US are expected to decline, hurting the balance of payments, Assocham paper said.
World bank data showed the US was the second largest source of remittance for India in 2015, behind Saudi Arabia, with about $10.96 billion — nearly 16 percent of the total — being sent to India. Assocham expects the inflow to decline by 8-10 per cent.
“Indian firms support efforts to root out any abuse occurring in the H-1B system, as our IT industry is one of the most regulated sectors in the economy, and companies abide by applicable laws and regulations,” claimed Nasscom.
Asserting that the H-1B visa system was meant to meet the acute shortage of highly-skilled domestic talent in the US, it said additional curbs on the H-1B or L-1 visas would hurt thousands of US businesses and their efforts to be competitive by hindering access to needed talent.
“We have no problem with measures to protect American workers, but they should be made applicable to all firms applying for short-term skilled visas, including H-1B,” it reiterated.