With virtually nothing to show in three months of his presidential term, Donald Trump’s way of fulfilling poll promises has potential to harm American interests in general. In one go the maverick American President, who has earned brickbats than any bouquet, signed on 18 April an executive order on stricter enforcement of H-1B visa, a non-immigrant visa which allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialized occupations like Information Technology.
Over the past few months, the H-1B visa programme found itself under intense heat after Donald Trump criticised US companies for abusing it to avoid hiring higher-paid American workers. Doled out to skilled foreign workers through lottery system, it is said that some 600,000 to 900,000 foreign workers are currently in the US on H-1B visa.
IT companies like Google and Microsoft would be hardest hit by the US President’s executive order. These American companies headed by Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella- both Indian origin professionals – rely heavily on high-skilled foreign workers to carry out IT related works of their companies.
Ironically, several American companies, without assessing foreign workers’ role in the growth of the US economies, have sided with Trump’s decision on the H-1B visa. They say the new visa law will be applicable to those with advanced degrees like a masters or Ph.D. A few weeks before Donald Trump’s swearing-in as the 45th American President, two US Congressmen introduced a bill to curb the use of H-1B visas.
Apart from seeking hike in H-1B visa’s fees from $60,000 currently to minimum $100,000, the bill sought to remove the Master’s degree exemption. The bill was introduced after companies like Disney and Southern California Edison came under fire for outsourcing their IT operations to Bangaluru-based companies. From that time onwards, it was feared that the US would clamp down heavily on the use of H-1B visas by American companies in their hire of foreign workers. As now this has become a reality, a major question being asked is: Why America has resorted to such protectionist measure? Would it not harm the US’s own national interest? Yes, it would hurt Americans. But Indian companies would be hardest hit by Donald Trump’s decision on distribution of H-1B Visas to foreign workers.
How Trump’s decision will impact Indians?
Not only leading American companies, even start-up companies rely heavily on Indian IT professionals to carry out their research and application works. Experts say that even though top-notch US companies with deep financial pockets would manage their works, the American start-up companies would find it hard to survive in the highly competitive IT market. It is said that small companies with shoe string budget cannot afford to go by Trump’s policy “Buy American, Hire American.” They are already struggling to attract talent in the tight market.
Experts say a visa system that favours the highest paid workers will push immigrants to successful and highly-paid companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Facebook and Google. On the other hand, Indian IT firms like Tata Consultancy Services, the largest software exporter to the US and Europe, say that they have already reduced the number of visas they have applied for over the past few years. They say they have already set up development centres in the US and are hiring local engineers. Another Indian IT major, Infosys says that it continues to invest in local communities in the US and that it is hiring local engineers for deployment on projects.
Even though Indian companies have already begun to shape up themselves in pursuance of the Americans’ requirement, there are many individuals who dream to work in the US on the basis of their talent and training. But now those dreams will remain unfulfilled as Trump has put stricter rules on the grant of H-1B visa; it would be provided to a few and that too after tough screening and scrutiny of degrees of individual applicants.