Kenosha: President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered a review of the U.S. visa programme for bringing high-skilled foreign workers into the country, putting technology firms and the outsourcing companies that serve them on notice that possible changes may be ahead.
Seeking to carry out a campaign pledge to put "America First," Trump signed an executive order on the H-1B visa programme. It was vague on many fronts, and did not change existing rules, but one objective, said Trump aides, is to modify or replace the current lottery for H-1B visas with a merit-based system that would restrict the visas to highly skilled workers. Indian nationals are the largest group of H-1B recipients annually.
Such a change could affect companies, such as Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant Tech Solutions Corp and Infosys Ltd, that connect U.S. technology companies with thousands of foreign engineers and programmers. None responded to requests for comment.
More than 15 percent of Facebook Inc's U.S. employees in 2016 used a temporary work visa, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. Labor Department filings. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment.
Infosys, India's No. 2 IT services firm, has said previously that it is ramping up work on on-site development centres in the United States to train local talent in an effort to address the visa regulation changes under consideration.
It warned last week that onerous changes to U.S. visa rules could affect its earnings.
NASSCOM, the Indian IT service industry's main lobbying group, said it backs efforts to root out H-1B abuses, but said the idea that H-1B visa holders are cheap labour is inaccurate.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Washington in February to be open minded on admitting skilled Indian workers.
© Thomson Reuters 2017