BENGALURU: US president Donald Trump’s latest executive order on H-1B visas does not change anything for Indian IT companies immediately – it just reinforces the message conveyed to immigration officials in recent times that they should scrutinise applications to ensure they meet the standards laid down in the visa law.
However, the order carries the potential to make things difficult for IT companies in the future. It has ordered an inter-departmental review of the H-1B visa programme so that it better meets Trump’s ‘Hire American’ policy. This could mean changes to the programme, either by way of regulation or by asking Congress to pass a bill.
H-1B visas are expected to bring skilled workers who are otherwise not available in the US, but some believe it has been misused to bring in low-wage workers from countries like India to replace expensive American workers.
Indian IT lobby group Nasscom described the proposed changes as forward-looking and non-specific. Nasscom member companies, it said, support efforts to root out any abuses that may be occurring in the H-1B system. “Ours is one of the most highly regulated and scrutinised sectors in the economy, and Nasscom member companies abide by all applicable laws and regulations,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
Scott Fitzgerald, partner at immigration services firm Fragomen Worldwide, said the order would have no effect on this year’s H-1B cap lottery, which has already been run and the results announced. “On the enforcement front, it remains to be seen what this means. During the press conference, at one point the US government officials suggested that Indian IT services companies have been breaking the law. Later, they stated that these companies have not been breaking the law, but that the law needs to change,” he said.
When TOI contacted Infosys on the matter, the firm said that in order to help its US clients leverage technology to transform their businesses, the company was investing in the local communities in which it operates, including hiring local American top talent, bringing education and training to its clients to shrink the skills gap in the US, and working with policymakers to foster innovation within states and across the country.