United States bill to curb H-1B visas fraught with challenges: Nasscom

Even as the USA government is expected to legislate laws tightening controls over cap on H-1B Visas, it's fees limiting rights to work for H4 Visa holders, stocks of Indian IT companies such as Infosys, TCS, Wipro are seeing a free fall.

In addition to satisfying the minimum wage requirements, the bill will also mandate that employers first try to hire a qualified American for the job before applying for an H-1B or L1 visa. Over fears that changes in the visa legislation could make it harder for Indian tech firms to hire and send professionals to work on their projects in the U.S., the Indian IT market took a sharp nosedive.

Separately, lawmakers have introduced three different Bills in the US Congress that would appear to specifically target Indian IT companies, which, along with Indian techies, have been the main beneficiaries of the H-1B programme for well over a decade. As per the Bill, visas are given on priority to those firms, which are willing to increase the minimum wage and do away category of lowest pay.

On Monday, a report by Bloomberg said an executive order to be signed by Trump would seek to curb the use of long-term H-1B visas, and the short-term L-1, E-2 and B1 visas.

Mumbai-based TCS and Bangalore based Wipro, and Infosys are amongst the major users of H-1B visas.

In 2016, there were 236,000 applications for just 65,000 available visas. These companies would then be forced to raise the salaries of workers being sent to the U.S. by nearly 60%-70% - which would detract from the point of hiring foreign workers to replace the costlier American professional in the first place.

Facebook spent $8.69 million trying to squeeze in favourable policies on issues such as patents, privacy, data security, movement of skilled workers.

On the National Stock Exchange, shares of TCS were down 4.5%, HCL Tech was down 4.1%, Wipro was down 2.4% and Infosys was down 2.3%.

This Bill has given a jolt to the Indian IT industry, which will now be forced to hire only local American workers.

"We can't say how many people will be affected by the legislation".

Singh said Nassom would continue to highlight the fact that Indian companies support job growth in United States as well as technological innovations introduced by the Indian IT industry based in America.

Some tech media websites, closely following the changes that the Trump Administration and the US Congress may bring about, speak of the possibility of a reversal of employment authorisation cards to spouses of H-1B workers, which was recently granted by the Obama Administration after a prolonged campaign. In accordance with the Free Trade Agreements that the USA has with Singapore and Chile, they get get additional 5,400 and 1,400 visas under the H-1B1 category, respectively.

  • Jon Douglas