Changes in the H-1B visa program adversely affecting large Indian IT companies, says NASSCOM

R. Chandrasekhar, president, NASSCOM. Credit: NASSCOM.

Trump administration’s proposed changes in the H-1B visa program is putting Indian tech companies at a disadvantage when compared to their competitors abroad, according to the National Association for Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), The Economic Times reported.

“The US government’s immigration policy is creating an artificial distinction between one company and another,” said R Chandrashekhar, president of NASSCOM. “Our problem, which we have brought to their attention, is that you cannot and should not be doing things which discriminate against Indian companies even though you have not named them.”

Reportedly, the organization has brought this to the attention of Indian government.

The HR-170, The Protect and Grow American Jobs Act, was approved by the Committee on the Judiciary on November 15, 2017. Introduced in the House on January 3, 2017, the bill will now be put to vote in the Senate.

“This bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to revise the definition of “exempt H-1B nonimmigrant” to eliminate the masters or higher degree requirement and raise the annual salary threshold requirement from $60,000 to $10,000,” says Congress’s website. The exempt H-1B nonimmigrant is explained thus: “An exempt H-1B nonimmigrant is a nonimmigrant H-1B [specialty occupation] worker meeting certain criteria whom an H-1B dependent employer may hire without having to satisfy certain otherwise applicable H-1B hiring criteria. An H-1B dependent employer is generally one whose H-1B workers comprise 15% or more of the employer’s total workforce, with different thresholds applying to smaller employers.”

Furthermore, the clients of the employer company have to certify that the foreign worker is not replacing an existing employee.

Chandrashekhar said, “We see this as clearly discriminatory because it affects only the large Indian companies and will have the effect of tilting the playing field against Indian companies.”

NASSCOM also underscored that the increased scrutiny of applications has resulted in 50 percent decrease in the visa applications. Additionally, the report mentioned that the number of visa-approvals has plummeted. “TCS got 56% less visas approved in FY16 compared to FY15 while Wipro’s numbers dropped by 52% to 1,474 visas, according to data compiled by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP),” the article mentioned.

In contrast, American tech companies have witnessed an increase.

“Amazon’s H-1B applications increased by 33%, Intel by 64%, Facebook by 18% and Microsoft by 19%. Numbers for Google, Cisco, and Apple were also up, according to NFAP with the exception of firms such as IBM,” the article said.

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