India tech, outsourcing firms shaken by Trump H-1B visa reform rumors
- Shares in India’s major tech and outsourcing companies tumbled last week after reports that President Donald Trump plans to reform the H-1B visa program, says CNN Tech. The program allows high-skilled foreign nationals, many with technical backgrounds, to obtain work visas in the U.S.
- The U.S. fuels an estimated $65 billion into India’s tech industry, says CNN. India’s massive outsourcing industry employs millions of workers, some of whom provide engineering and other tech services to major firms like Microsoft, IBM and Citibank.
- Richard Verma, the former U.S. Ambassador to India, estimated that of the 85,000 H-1B visas granted annually, 70% are issued to Indian workers. CNN reports that the visa demand in 2016 was three times the number available.
Trump reportedly plans to issue an executive order to overhaul the H-1B program. A drastic plan could upset both domestic and international markets. The latest reform proposal would replace the current lottery system with a visa-petition system.
India warns of a major setback to the tech industry if H-1B reform efforts are enacted. R Chandrashekhar, president of Nasscom, India's software industry representative, told CNN that the current visa category of workers is in short supply in the U.S., and that reforms will have implications for both Indian and American companies.
Republican lawmakers, including Darryl Issa (R-CA) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), have introduced legislation to raise salaries for workers in the visa program in an effort to make those candidates less attractive to outsourcing firms. These firms have been accused of supplanting American workers with low-paid, entry-level foreign nationals.