President Donald Trump has made headlines across the world since the day was he sworn in. His latest move of passing executive orders to temporarily ban refugees from seven countries and thus restricting their travel to the US led to several protests in the country. Besides reactions all over the world and within the US, the technology sector also voraciously condemned the act, as it heavily depends on skilled IT workers from all over the world. All major tech companies, from Google to Netflix and Microsoft, announced their support and offered financial support to the cause of supporting immigrants.
Amazon and Expedia also announced their support to a lawsuit against Trump’s order saying it would have an adverse impact on their business. Another lawsuit argues that Trump’s order is unconstitutional. Google was quick to announce that it would set up a $2 million fund that would donate to various organisations fighting the crisis. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos also supported the voices against Trump’s order, and in an e-mail to Amazon’s employees, mentioned, “We're a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years. No nation is better at harnessing the energies and talents of immigrants. It's a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken."
After all the hue and cry about the travel ban, it seems now that Trumps is aiming to tighten the laws around H-1B visas. As per reports, his administration has another executive order being drafted that will overhaul the work-visa programmes that allow IT workers from other countries to come and work in the US. Even during his campaign trail, Trump said that he would stop the abuse of H-1B programme by tech companies. According to him, the visa programme takes away jobs from low-wage American IT workers as technology companies depend on hiring tens of thousands of employees each year. This potential step has major tech companies in the US, including Microsoft, IBM, Apple, and Intel, worried, as they rely heavily on this visa program to outsource their high-skilled jobs. Under the new system, they will have to first try to recruit from the local pool and only go to foreign workers for the high-paid jobs.
Presently, the US issues 85,000 H-1B visas every year, out of which, about 70% are used by Indians IT workers. Out of these, nearly 86% visas are for IT-related jobs and 46.5% are for various engineering professions.
The news of a potential H-1B draft saw the shares of Indian tech giants such as TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, and HCL Technologies fell from four per cent to nine percent. Indian IT companies get most of their revenues (around 60%) from their operations in the US. It is a market worth about $65 billion for India’s tech industry. The industry is arguing that they are helping US corporations to become more competitive in the global market by making their IT operations more cost-effective.
In the face of the backlash that Trump has faced for the travel ban order, it remains to be seen if the new administration will be able to implement the H-1B restrictions that it plans to put in place. But trust Trump to disrupt and disregard the opinions.