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Visa woes force Indian IT workers to return home, H-1B visa applications fall

US President Donald Trump clearly said on Tuesday that US jobs are for Americans and the rest will have to undergo strict review to get the work visas.

April 19, 2017 / 01:35 PM IST

US President Donald Trump Tuesday said US jobs are for Americans and the rest will have to undergo strict review to get work visas in the country.

Trump signed an executive order to call for review of H-1B visa programme and said the "most skilled and highest paid applicants" should get the visas.

"They (visas) should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans. No one can compete with American workers when they're given a fair and level playing field, which has not happened for decades," Trump said.

US is the not the only country to have tightened its visa rules. Australia, New Zealand and Singapore too are on the list.

On Tuesday, Australia abolished a visa programme that is used by over 95,000 temporary foreign workers including Indians. This has been done to tackle the growing problem of unemployment in the country.


The Australian visa programme – 457 visa – is used to employ skilled foreign workers.

Singapore, on the other hand, is not awarding new visas to foreign workers since January this year. This could spell doom for IT companies as most of them have offices there.

The US visa review is not a cause of concern for Indian IT firms as they already comply with all rules, Nasscom’s president R Chandrasekhar told CNBC-TV18.

In the whole immigration debate, H-1B visa issue is very small, he said. Since Trump coming to power, business trends have not been dramatic, which is another worry.

However, Chandrasekhar believes that India IT story is very much alive contrary to predictions.

While Nasscom is upbeat, general sentiment in the sector is down with many people looking to come back home. A Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu report in the Livemint says the number of Indian in US looking for jobs in India went up by 10-fold between December and March.

In December 2016, nearly 600 Indians in US searched for jobs in India.

This number spiked to 7000 by March 2017, said the report.

Not only this, but applications for H-1B visa fell for the first in five years. Employers filed for 16 percent fewer visas this year as compared to 2016 as Trump administration takes reviews the visa.

According to data by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, employers submitted 199,000 visa applications against 236,000 applications last year.

Most of the big Indian IT companies like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services– rely heavily on H-1B visas.

Research agency Gartner is expecting the IT services industry to grow at 2.3 percent, a decline of 3.6 percent over last year, owning to the happenings in US. IT spending too is expected to slowdown for 2017 to 1.4 percent from 2.7 percent last year on back of strengthening dollar.

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