Infosys, TCS, Wipro stocks in focus as US plans tougher H1-B visa norms

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Stocks of information technology (IT) companies such as Infosys, TCS and Wipro continue to remain in focus over rising concerns of clampdown by the US Congress over H1-B visas.

Infosys’ stock prices were marginally down by less than a percent on Monday morning and TCS’ stock prices were stable. However, the Indian IT sector – which has over and time become a reason for debate for misusing work visas – fears job losses.

For years, skilled engineers, especially in the field of technology and software, have filled high-profile jobs in the US, a move that America’s new president-elect Donald Jr. Trump has often talked about and opposed during his election campaign.

Last Wednesday, two lawmakers re-introduced a bill in the US Congress backing changes in the H1-B programme claiming that it will help cracking down on visa abuse.

The ‘Protect and Grow American Jobs Act’ makes important changes to the eligibility requirements for H1-B Visa exemptions was re-introduced on Wednesday by Republican Darrell Issa and Scott Peters; both from California.

One of the changes that the bill proposed is increasing the minimum salary of H-1B visa to $100,000 per annum from the current $60,000, and eliminate Masters Degree exemption. In the recent past a number of companies, including Disney and SoCal Edison have been under scanner for abusing the H1B Visa programme to replace American workers with foreign workers.

Read | Indian IT stocks slump on concerns over change in H1-B visa programme

Raising the salary will bring the payout in-line with the average American salary, removing any profit incentives.

Vishal Sikka, Infosys’ CEO recently warned company employees over challenges coming from big political changes. “Brexit, the American Presidential election, demonetization, cyber security, the refugee and terrorism situation were the events that seriously changed the way we viewed the world… We will not survive if we remain in the constricted space of doing as we are told, depending solely on cost-arbitrage, and working as reactive problem-solvers,” he said.

“I will direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programmes that undercut the American worker,” Trump had said in one of his speeches.

Once known to hire large number of people, the IT sector is expected to create less jobs. Nasscom, the IT industry’s lobby body, had predicted earlier that 30,000 less jobs will be created in 2016. The trend might continue.

The fear of a tighter immigration policy under Trump was expected, and move will have an adverse impact on the $110 billion IT industry, as the US continues to its biggest market.