This Article is From Mar 10, 2017

Protectionist Mood In US, Indian IT Has To Prepare, Says Nasscom

Nasscom has said the Indian IT industry has to prepare for changes in US visa rules.

Recently, a delegation from Indian IT industry body Nasscom visited the US to meet policymakers and legislators in the backdrop of concerns over clampdown on H-1B visa regime by the Trump administration. Nasscom president R Chandrashekhar told NDTV Profit that "the mood in the US is of protection" but he does not foresee imminent legislative changes. "Mood there certainly is in direction of protection. That is clearly visible. We have to see how it translates in terms of actual policy," he said.

(Read | US Wants PhDs, Not Mid-Level Workers, Under H-1B, Says Lawmaker)

Mr Chandrashekhar said the Indian IT industry has to prepare for changes and outlined how the industry can prepare at "three different levels". Indian companies are speeding up acquisitions of US firms as they try to beat challenges posed by an expected tightening of visa rules in their biggest market.

The acquisition route gives Indian companies "a bigger mix of visa workers and domestic workers because presumably many of the acquired companies would actually have large American nationals as their employees", Mr Chandrashekhar said. Many bills have been introduced (or re-introduced) in US Congress this year to tighten the H-1B visa regime. One of them proposes to prohibit companies from hiring H-1B employees if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50 per cent of their employees are H-1B and L-1 visa holders.

(Read |  Flurry Of Bills To Curb H-1B Visa Programme Alarms Indian IT Sector)

Mr Chandrashekhar says another way to prepare for the eventual tightening of the visa regime is to "continue to try and hire more qualified Americans although there have been major challenges because of lack of qualified people and the fact that even in the universities in the US, 75 per cent of enrolments in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programme are actually international students (foreigners) and even to hire them you still need a visa".

The Nasscom president said tighter implementation of visa regulations could be on the cards. "We don't have any issue because all the major Indian companies have been fully complaint of the law," he said.

In the future too, IT companies need to "ensure that all the documentation is maintained in an appropriate manner", he added.

Mr Chandrashekhar said the industry and the Indian government is "watching the situation very closely". The Indian government too has also conveyed its concerns at a 'very senior level' in the US administration on the move to curb H-1B visa processing, Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.