Under the leadership of Donald Trump, USA has been under the heat of the world community for taking some unpopular decision. Be it the unilateral pull out form the Iran nuclear deal or Trump’s refusal to work against climate change, Trump administration has been under fire from both within and outside the USA. Now, in another bizarre move the American Government is considering to put caps on H-1B work visas. This move by the USA comes in response to nations that have instructed foreign companies to store and process sensitive user data locally.
Trump’s plan cap H-1B visa will affect Indians the most as according to estimates 70 per cent of these visas go to Indians. At present, there is no country specific quota on the H-1B visas. Reportedly, Trump is planning to cap the number of H-1B visas issued to Indians at 10-15 per cent. Capping H-1B visas for Indians is sure to further intensify the ongoing tariff row between the two nations.
The plan to limit the H-1B visa, which allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, comes just days ahead of official state visit by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s to New Delhi. Each year around 85000 H1-B work visas are granted by the USA and many estimates peg around 70% of the visas going to Indians, however there is no specific country wise quota. It is to note that under this step, H-1B visas issued each year to Indians will be capped between 10% and 15% of the annual quota.
India, last year, mandated foreign firms to store their payments data “only in India” for supervision, and New Delhi is working on a broad data protection law that would impose strict rules for local processing of data it considers sensitive. This move by the Indian Government to promote local processing of data didn’t go down well with several US Companies which have been opposing India’s move citing increased costs.
If Washington goes ahead with this arbitrary step, it will surely be increasing problems for various tech giants in the US including software giants such as Microsoft Corp, Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc who use services of Indian Engineers and developers, flying to the US on H1-B work visas. Consequently, the $150 billion Indian IT sector will also be impacted. The National Association of Software and Services Companies or NASSCOM in an emailed statement had also indicated towards the impact of such move by the USA and pointed out that If Washington made it more difficult to hire advanced tech workers, it would only weaken the U.S. companies that depend on them to help fill their skill gaps and put jobs at risk.
Sudheer Guntupalli, an analyst with Ambit Capital in Mumbai also pointed out the ramifications for US companies if this move goes ahead, he said “The American companies themselves need Indian talent, so if there is a cap on these visas, this will impact U.S. companies also and hurt their business interests,” also linking this move to the ongoing Tariff row he added “Clearly this seems to be a retaliatory measure from the U.S. government.”
This move is also sure to upset the finances tech giants in the USA which take the economical service of highly trained Indian Engineers and developers flying down to the US working on H-1B visas. H-1B visas have been highly instrumental in making USA a tech giant. Highly trained professionals from India working on H-1B visas have been instrumental behind exponential growth of several tech companies. From Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadela to Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, Indians have dominated the tech space in USA. These steps to limit contribution by Indian professionals to the American tech industry would have adverse effect on their functioning. However, it remains to be seen if the USA goes ahead with this step which will not only impact Indians companies but also rattle American tech companies.