Express News Global

Published: January 16, 2017
US push for H-1B visa reform and Europe’s strict regime may show uneasy times to Indian ITSenator Jeff Sessions, in his confirmation hearing for post Attorney General of the US, said Trump administration will push for legislative reform to curb abuse of H-1B visas.

NEW DELHI: The Indian information technology industry should brace for tougher times as protectionist voices against foreign workers intensify in some of its biggest markets, including the US and Europe.Last week, Senator Jeff Sessions, in his confirmation hearing for the post Attorney General of the US, said the Donald Trump administration will push for legislative reform to curb abuse of H-1B visas for foreign workers.The US is the biggest market for the Indian IT industry, which has been a beneficiary of the H-1B visa system.“There is clearly an increasing likelihood of immigration and visa reform sponsored by the new Trump administration passing with broad bipartisan support,” Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of the Everest Group, a consulting company, said in an emailed response to ET.“The Trump administration will act to restrict use of the H-1B visa…However, the biggest threat to the Indian service providers comes from the new disruptive technologies such as cloud, digital, RPA (robotic process automation) and cognitive computing,” said Bendor-Samuel.While the Indian IT industry has acknowledged the need to look at the issue of skills in a world of increasing automation and changing technology, it stresses that Indian companies are a net creator of jobs in the US and skilled migration is a small percentage of overall immigration, especially in Europe.“The top seven Indian companies which form more than 90 per centof the H-1B visas from Indian IT industry just about form 13 per centof the total new H-1B petitions, according to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) data from 2015.Thibodeau said the Trump administration was unlikely to put in H-1B restrictions that would hurt big companies such as Google, Microsoft , Facebook and Intel, which hire relatively large numbers of such workers.“For US firms that outsource operations overseas, the hope of critics is that higher salaries and other restrictions on H-1B use will change the economics of offshore outsourcing, make it less cost effective and undermine the reasons for moving jobs overseas,” he said.Nasscom’s Singh said skilled labour is a supply side constraint which is faced by both Indian and US or global companies, necessitating the use of short-term work visas.