NASSCOM: Curbs on H-1B, other work visas ‘harmful’ to US economy

Nasscom Indian IT industry

Calling Trump H-1B ban ‘misguided,’ Indian trade body wants restrictions reduced to 90 days.

By Arun Kumar

A trade association of Indian IT service industry has decried President Donald Trump’s latest move to restrict H-1B and other work visas coveted by Indian professionals as “misguided and harmful to the US economy.”

Trump Monday issued a new proclamation to bar entry into US on various types of work visas including H-1B visas, L visas, H-2B seasonal worker visas, and J visas until Dec 31.

The move could possibly force more work to be performed offshore since local talent was not available in the US, warned the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) Tuesday.

Noting that virtually every segment of the US economy from accounting to manufacturing to technology employs skilled foreign workers, it asked the Trump administration to shorten these restrictions to 90 days amid the coronavirus crisis.

“The proclamation issued today barring the entry of certain non-immigrants into America and setting new conditions for others is misguided and harmful to the US economy,” NASSCOM stated.

Thousands of US corporations, universities, medical facilities, research institutions, directly and through their associations have asked Trump not to take such action because of the harm it would do now and going forward as the country reopens and recovers, it pointed out.

RELATED: H-1B, H4 and L1 visa banned till the end of the year (June 22, 2020)

“Such sentiments were also echoed by dozens of Republican and Democratic members of Congress and governors.” NASSCOM noted.

Problems created by the coronavirus crisis and the USCIS and State Department office closures have delayed the processing of visas and made it difficult, if not, impossible at times to travel to or from the US, it said.

This new proclamation will prevent Indian companies and thousands of other organizations from accessing the talent they need from overseas, NASSCOM said.

“With very few exceptions, Indian nationals and others who are granted new H-1Bs or L-1s as well as other visa types after 23rd June will not be allowed to enter the US until the proclamation expires,” it said.

“Even though our companies have hired tens of thousands of Americans and invested billions of dollars in recent years, they like others in the sector utilize such high skilled individuals to services their clients,” the trade association said.

This new proclamation, it said, will impose new challenge and possibly force more work to be performed offshore since the local talent is not available.

RELATED: H-1B updates: What are the implications of Trump’s new executive order? (Posted June 22, 2020)

Several US business groups have pointed out that “policies such as these undercut the ability to grow and create jobs, inhibit the provision of critical infrastructure services, and add burdensome new regulatory requirements and costs.”

Virtually every segment of the American economy, including manufacturing, technology, accounting, medicine, among others, employ skilled workers from other countries for the innovation, productivity, and skill they bring to their companies or for their clients, the Indian association said.

“NASSCOM’s members provide essential services to hospitals, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, state and local government agencies, financial institutions, technology and communications firms, grocers, manufacturers, and thousands of other businesses across the US.”

“Highly skilled non-immigrants are playing critical roles in the delivery of these services and the development of these services and products.” it noted.

“Without their continued contributions to the US economy, the economic pain would worsen, industry would slow, and the timeline for a treatment and cure of covid-19 would lengthen,” NASSCOM said.

Moreover, the people who come to the US on H-1B and L-1 visas pay taxes and contribute to their communities and to local economies in myriad other ways as well, it pointed out.

Noting that various studies “reveal the immeasurable value non-immigrants have and will bring to America,” NASSCOM urged the Administration to shorten the duration of these restrictions to 90 days.

Lengthening these burdensome restrictions on US companies that are trying to recover from the economic fallout of the covid-19 pandemic will only serve to harm the US economy, it said.

NASSCOM also hoped that the Trump “administration will rethink its stated plans to move forward on a series of regulatory changes that would place additional restrictions and costs on visa programs while doing little more than amplifying the harm already being done to the US economy.”

“In this time of covid-19 crisis and recovery, the administration’s policies that impact American businesses should follow the oath taken by healthcare professionals: first do no harm,” the Indian trade body said.

Criticism of the cubrs on H-1B is pouring in from the United States as well. Among those denounced the executive order are Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Thomas J. Donohue, the CEO of the influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Pichai, an Indian American, tweeted on Monday: “Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today. Disappointed by today’s proclamation – we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all.”

Donohue, whose organization been lobbying against restrictions on H-1B, said in a press statement, “Today’s proclamation is a severe and sweeping attempt to restrict legal immigration. Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back. Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation.”

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