First make a good-faith to recruit American workers’, says a new Bill introduced in the United States Congress by senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin to tighten the noose around the H-1B visa programme.
Ever since, seasoned businessman-turned-politician Donald Trump, decided to grab the coveted seat of the world’s most powerful economy, Indian technology firms have been dreading amendments in laws that could hurt them. After Trump’s inauguration, this fear has become even more colossal. Information Technology (IT) majors, including Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, fear that they may once again be the punching bag of the new government in the US.
Earlier this week, the US Labour Department sued software giant Oracle, accusing the company for discriminatory hiring practices against White, Hispanic and African-Americans in favour of Asians, particularly “Asian Indians”.
Indian firms, on their part, are bracing to deal with changing circumstances under the Trump era.
Earlier this week, Business Standard reported that Infosys is s setting up “region-specific hubs” and hire freshers and experienced young professionals in the United States and Europe to combat growing anti-immigration policies of local governments. Infosys would focus on setting up such hubs in geographies where clients have a higher demand for local people. The move comes as two Republican senators have sought to revise the H1B visa programme to increase the minimum wage by 40 per cent to $ 100,000. Majority of H1B visa holders are Indian nationals, working with Indian service providers and multinational such as IBM and Accenture.
“We continue to hire and invest locally. However, given the skill shortages in the US and the availability of technically skilled workforce in various global markets, we also rely upon visa programs to supplement these skills,” Infosys COO Pravin Rao was also quoted as saying by ET.
“In addition, the president is a seasoned entrepreneur and as such we expect the administration to be business friendly and innovation friendly,” said Rao.
The report also quotes Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of IT consultancy firm, Everest Group saying, “I would expect to see a rise in the number of lawsuits which are then further amplified by a populist press.”
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on the other hand is making changes to its business model to tackle US visa headwinds. The Mumbai-based IT firm had decided that it will have to operate in a “visa constrained regime” in the future. Its US visa applications narrowed to 4,000 in 2016 as against 14,000 in the previous year and only a third of them were granted last year. TCS has taken steps to ensure that it has the right mix of resources (expats deputed to the US, locals and sub-contractors) and also leverages its near- shore and global centres to execute projects.
US’ attempts to bully Indian outsourcing companies
For years now, Indian outsourcing companies have been the soft target for American politicians, however, aspersions at outsourcing have always been done in a somewhat suppressed way. But that’s not the case with Trump. He went beyond his way to campaign lethally against outsourcing firms and vowed to bring about changes in H1-B visa policy.
‘Indian firms favour workers from India’
There have been claims that Indian firms tend to favour workers of South Asian descent In April 2015, a former American employee sued TCS alleging it favoured workers of South Asian descent.
Infosys and TCS along with several American firms have been subject to law suits and state scrutiny over alleged visa misuse and discriminatory practices in the past few years.
Upset US employees are taking legal route for old grievances too.
“American tech workers are now grasping that Equal Employment Opportunity laws protect them and that prestigious law firms are willing to take these cases on contingency,” said Donna Conroy, executive director of the Chicago-based tech advocacy group Bright Future Jobs.
A worker in America has up to seven years, after termination, to file a lawsuit against his employer, said Rajiv Dabhadkar, founder of the National Organisation for Software and Technology Professionals, which works for Indian workers overseas.
US national Jack Palmer triggered a US investigation of Infosys’ visa practices after he alleged possible visa violations at the company in 2011. Infosys also had to pay $34 million to end a federal investigation into visa fraud and errors in its hiring records.
H-1B VISA ISSUES
Patrick Thibodeau, national correspondent, Computerworld, told ET that the Barack Obama administration never pursued a national origin discrimination case against any IT offshore industry firm (or the company that hired the contractor). “But the Trump administration may be different.”
However, during the meeting last month in New York, Trump seemed to be searching for middle ground, and members of his transition team raised specific proposals, the two sources said. A third source familiar with the talks said the Trump team has also discussed the plan to change the lottery system internally. ALSO READ: Indian IT firms get jitters as team Trump flashes red card on H1B visa
There were more than a dozen top tech executives from some of the country’s largest tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Apple, present at the meeting.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said technology companies need to be able to recruit talent from abroad when necessary.
Trump seemed open to modifying the H-1B programme, the sources said. He said he wanted to stop “bad people” from immigrating to the United States, not “great people”, according to one account of the meeting.