Indian IT industry leaders to meet White House officials to discuss H-1B

The Indian delegation to visit Washington starting Feb. 20: report.
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Top executives of major Indian technology firms will fly to the United States later this month to meet Trump administration officials that are opposed to the H-1B visa program that attracts Indian talents to the US, reported Bloomberg.

R Chandrashekhar, the president of the information technology industry trade group National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), told Bloomberg that CEOs of top IT companies in India will meet White House officials and lawmakers starting from February 20 to dissuade them from taking hard decisions that could hurt the H-1B visa program.

Top outsourcing firms from India, such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, which rely on the visa program to place foreign talents in US companies, will be part of the delegation.

Bloomberg had earlier reported that the administration is gearing up to pass an executive order that will overhaul the H-1B visa system that allows tens of thousands of skilled foreign workforces to come to the US on nonimmigrant visas annually.

A draft of the executive order, published by the news agency, has clauses that could drastically impact the hiring of American companies that utilize the visa program and the functioning of Indian companies that currently supply cheap but skilled laborers.

A proposed two-fold hike in the current H-1B minimum wage would mean that the companies will have to hire Americans instead of foreign labors — a move that will fall in line with the America first slogan of President Trump.

“We want to put across to the new administration and the lawmakers what would be lost by America closing those doors,” Chandrashekhar told Bloomberg. He will also join the delegation on a four-day visit to the Washington, DC.

Nasscom has already shared its concerns with the government of India. “We have talked to the government which will do what it needs to do, but we are parallelly pursuing our own course of action,” said Chandrashekhar.

Even though the extent of the potential impact of an executive order on H-1B visa is not clear, there are bills introduced in the Congress that have recommended massive changes to the existing work visa program.

Last week, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren introduced a new bill in Congress that recommends tightening of the H-1B visa program.

The stocks of Indian IT companies took a nose dive on Tuesday after the news about the draft created panic among investors. It has been also reported that Indian IT companies are receiving panic emails from their H-1B staffs in the US, asking them about the openings back home.

Meanwhile, many Indian companies have already started sketching contingency plans for a potential executive order that will make it hard for them to find workers for their US clients, which include many of America’s top banks and corporations.

Chandrashekhar also added that the issues will be one of the priorities during the meeting of President Trump with Prime Minister Modi, which is likely to happen in June.

The National Association of Software and Services Companies is a trade association of Indian information technology and business process outsourcing industry.

“We want to help the officials and lawmakers understand the gains for the US economy and the benefits to Americans because of businesses using Indian IT services,” said Chandrashekhar. “It is not merely what appears on the surface, the reality is far more complex than making changes to the 85,000 H-1B visa program.”


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