Published On: Tue, Jun 9th, 2015

Know why H1-B visa issues will continue to haunt Indians as US gets into election mode

As the United States is heading towards Presidential elections slated for 2016, immigration reform and visa issues have become one of the priorities for discussion.

While it is too soon to talk about matters that would dominate the 2016 elections but the two issues could come back to hurt Indian IT services companies this year. The US is the biggest market for the Indian IT services sector.

“This will be a bloody, contentious election and immigration reform is right up there for discussion. The displacement of US IT and back-office jobs will be a significant issue leading up to 2016,” Phil Fersht, founder and chief executive of HfS Research, told Economic Times.

Economic Times reported that India’s $146-billion IT outsourcing industry has been a beneficiary of the temporary US work visas that are required by skilled foreign workers to work in that country. The employees working at client locations in the US are issued H-1B visas, which have a cap of 65,000 a year.

In recent months, the US Congress has been considering bills that seek to triple the cap of H-1B visas to 1,95,000. However, there is already a growing discontent about the H-1B visa process among skilled workers in the US. They say visas are a way for big companies to hire cheaper foreign workers.

Recently, entertainment company Disney laid off 250 local employees and replaced them by H-1B visa holders. The layoffs have prompted some US Senators to call for investigations into the visa process used by the companies.

“US workers who have trained a temporary visa-holding replacement as a condition of their severance describe it as a profoundly humiliating experience. These workers see a direct connection between the US government’s H-1B visa policies and their job loss, and they are furious,” Patrick Thibodeau, senior editor at Computerworld, told ET.

The US workers see this as a case of foreign workers on temporary visas replacing citizens and permanent residents and not as an India-specific issue, he further told the financial daily.



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