Trump hasn’t signed executive order yet, says govt.
New Delhi: India on Thursday said one should “not pre-judge the outcome” of a legislation introduced by a US Congresswoman on H1B visas in the House of Representatives there but added that its view was that “Indian software exports and personnel add to the competitiveness of US industry”.
The ministry of external affairs (MEA) said that any such bill introduced will have to go through the US “legislative process”, further pointing out that “no executive order has been signed (on this as yet) by President Donald Trump”. New Delhi reiterated that its concerns have already been raised with the US.
“No executive order has been signed so far... Three private bills have been introduced in the US House of Representatives. Such bills have been introduced in the past also and such bills have to go through the full Congressional process. Let’s not prejudge the outcome because we have seen what has happened to the similar bills in the past also. If and when the executive order is passed, we will certainly give a reaction,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He also said India remains in dialogue with the Trump administration as well as US Congress at the senior levels over the issue.
“They are fully aware of our position in this particular matter i.e Indian software exports and Indian software technical professionals add to the competitiveness of the US industry,” Mr. Swarup said.
It may be recalled that a legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives which calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders from $60,000 to $130,000, making it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers.
Shares of Indian IT companies had plunged as much as nine per cent earlier this week, with reports from Washington that President Trump is set to sign a new executive order aimed at overhauling work visa programmes like the H-1B and L1, a move that will adversely hit the lifeline of Indian tech firms and professionals in the US. Nearly two-thirds of H1B visa applicants are Indian nationals who either work for Indian IT services firms such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro or the local operations of US firms such as Accenture, IBM and Google.
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year. During his campaign, President Trump promised to increase oversight of our H-1B and L-1 visa programmes. According to some estimates, the US issues 85,000 H1-B visas every year out of which Indians reportedly get about 60,000 visas.
According to reports earlier from Washington, the High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 introduced by California Congressman Zoe Lofgren prioritises market-based allocation of visas to those companies willing to pay 200 percent of a wage calculated by survey, thereby eliminating the category of lowest pay, and raising the salary level at which “a H1B dependent employer are exempt from non-displacement and recruitment attestation requirements” to greater than $130,000. This is reportedly more than double of the current H1B minimum wage of $60,000 which was established in 1989 and since then has remained unchanged. The proposed change is calculated to eliminate cheaper recruitment from countries such as India.