Trump, H1B Visas and the Indian Connection

Because many of the H1B non-immigrant work visas are given to Indian nationals with IT specialization, it is no wonder that those potential applicants are concerned about changes or reforms to the program.   In fact, the H1B visa is such an integral part of the placement of Indian workers, that government has also taken a vocal stand on any efforts to curtail availability of H1B visas under the Trump administration.

A number of Indian business and government leaders have issued statements on the program, and many recently visited the White House to lobby the administration in person.  It is of interest to readers of this blog (many who are hopeful Indian H1B workers), to see how their own country representatives are weighing in to protect their concerns.

Recent Quotes on the H1B Visa by Indian Leaders

Here is a sampling of quotes and statement by Indians in recent months to give a flavor of how they view pending legislative and executive changes to the H1B visa program.

“We have conveyed to the US side that H1B is a trade and business issue, an economy issue. Our views have been clearly conveyed to the concerned US interlocutors,” he said, adding the government believes that the plans of the US Administration for the US economy present an opportunity for the two countries to further consolidate their strong economic partnership. “

-External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay 

“Additional restrictions on the H-1B… hurt thousands of U.S. businesses by hindering access to much needed talent…It is clear that our sector has more work to do in educating U.S. policymakers on the mutual benefits of strong India-U.S. trade in IT services,”

-NASSCOM president R. Chandrashekhar

Speaking to Reuters, Trade Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said New Delhi had reached out to the administration of President Donald Trump to stress the importance of India’s $150-billion IT services industry to US citizens.

“India’s investments in the United States have provided jobs to US citizens,” she said in an interview. “That has to be brought to the notice of the US administration.”

Almost all of these comments are trade and economy based arguments that the H1B visa program actually benefits the US and its workforce.

What Impact Will the Indian Government and Business Leaders Have on the H1B Program?

The dialogue over the H1B visa program between the US and India has been contentious at times, and last year India threatened to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization when the H1B visa fees were increased.  This type of reaction indicates that India sees the H1B visa as an issue of bilateral trade with the US, and not strictly an immigration policy.

Obviously, India is a long-time ally and trading partner with the US, and their views do carry some weight.  Unfortunately, some of the worst abuses and treatment of Indian IT workers has been at the hands of Indian outsourcing firms.  It is these practices that are in the line of sight of pending legislation, since it is seen that contracted IT workers do present a cheaper labor option than their US counterparts.

In the end, neither India nor its skilled population of IT workers can dictate policy to the US when it comes to protecting US jobs.  There is hope for middle ground as the reform movement continues, and it may be that the H1B visa is eventually improved to award the most skilled foreign workers at competitive rates of pay.

 

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  • May 1st, 2017
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