After a US Congressional committee voted to pass a legislation proposing to increase the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders, the Indian software services body National Association of Software and Services companies (Nasscom) said that the Bill was being “driven by myths” about the Indian IT sector.
The H-1B work visas, essentially, allow highly skilled foreign workers to travel to the US, and have been at the centre of a storm since US President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign last year. His “Make America Great Again” slogan took off in a big way, and he often mentioned H-1B visa regime as one of the things he would want to change.
The US Congressional committee proposes increasing the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to USD 90,000 from the existing USD 60,000 and imposes a number of restriction on the work visa popular among IT professionals from India, according to a PTI report.
The Bill, called Protect and Grow American Jobs Act (HR 170) - introduced by Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa - was passed by the House Judiciary Committee during a markup hearing this morning.
The Bill now heads to the full House for necessary action, reports PTI.
“Unfortunately, this legislation is being driven by myths, not reality, and could harm US businesses, imposing an extraordinary amount of bureaucratic red tape, disrupting the marketplace, threaten US jobs, and stifle US innovation by unfairly and arbitrarily targeting a handful of companies,” said Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar.
The over USD 155 billion Indian IT outsourcing industry has been a beneficiary of the H-1B visa programme, the most favoured route to send Indian engineers to the US, and has for long been accused of misusing the current system to send more people to the US. The industry has consistently denied the claim.
“US government data show very significant shortages of high skill talent around the country. The data show that the high-skill visa programmes are not a major cause of US unemployment, and IT specialists working on temporary visas are not "cheap labour." Employers who use the H-1B programme are highly regulated and scrutinized already, and NASSCOM member companies abide by all applicable laws and regulations. We continue to support efforts to root out any fraud or abuse in the H-1B system,” said Chandrashekhar.
There has also been an issue of India not being able to lobby the US government enough on the issue of H-1B visas, which is still seen as a draconian programme that takes away American jobs.
According to Rajiv Dabhadkar, Founder of the National Organization for Software & Technology Professionals, “This is highly Indian employer centric and eliminates fresh-off-the-boat guest workers or fresh-off-campus recent graduates of Indian origin who do not have an active provident fund account in India.”
He added that the demand for H-1B is slated to increase, especially keeping in mind the large Science Technology, Engineering and Maths graduates deficit in the US, with 1.1 million STEM demand by 2020.
He also called for Indian government’s intervention once the current Bill proposal becomes a law.