H-1B visa changes could benefit Indian IT professionals


Team Udayavani, Apr 28, 2017, 4:43 PM IST

Washington DC (USA): President Donald Trump’s proposed changes to the H-1B visa programme may end up benefiting Indian IT professionals in terms of higher wages, the founder of a leading asset management company has said.

The new rules for the visas could raise labour costs for both technology companies and businesses using outsourcing services in the US, said Ignatius Chithelen, founder and managing partner of Banyan Tree Capital Management in an op-ed at the Wharton website.

“These extra costs are estimated to be about USD 2.6 billion a year. The assumption is that the visa holders will be paid USD 100,000 in annual wages, around the average at major companies based on online job postings, while the number of visas issued remains the same,” he said.

Chithelen said the new visa policy is expected to be announced around November.

From next year, the visas could go to applicants with the highest wages and skills, and the number of H-1B visas issued may also be reduced since the focus is to “hire Americans”, he said.

The large supply of technologists from India, eager to work in the US, has kept technology wages in the US from surging too high, especially when demand rises sharply as in the current social media boom and during the Internet bubble of the late 1990s, Chithelen said.

“If, starting in 2018, H-1B visas are issued to those with the highest wages and skills, Indian professionals could benefit. Indians graduating with advanced degrees in the US and highly skilled professionals in India applying for H-1B jobs should then be able to find jobs with higher wages and better working conditions,” he said.

According to a survey released by Harvey Nash Pulse, six in 10 US IT leaders with large development teams say Trump’s proposed changes to the H-1B programme will make skilled IT talent more scarce and increase the cost to hire skilled IT talent.

Almost two-thirds of companies with more than 50 developers said they believe the current H-1B visa programme as it stands has helped businesses successfully access highly skilled IT talent, it said.

Meanwhile, in an op-ed, Republican Congressman Dave Brat said H-1B visa programme does not put America first. The current system for H-1B visa workers does not put the interests of our country first, and rampant abuses to the system leave American workers standing on the sidelines and often underemployed.

“During a time of heightened political divides, this is an issue both Democrats and Republicans in Congress can agree needs to be addressed,” he wrote in The Hill Newspaper.

“Too often, companies capitalise on the loopholes in our immigration system to displace high-skilled American workers in search of cheap labour,” said Brat, who is one of the co-authors of a bill proposing changes to the H-1B visa program.
Trump has signed an executive order that seeks to make changes to a H-1B visa programme that brings in highly skilled foreign workers.

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