US technology firms such as Google and Apple are likely to bear the brunt of a potential ban on H-1B work permits by the Trump administration, given that Indian IT services companies have, over the years, reduced their reliance on the US work permit, experts said.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed suspension could extend into the government’s new fiscal year beginning October 1, 2020 which is when the validity of the new visas begins.
The WSJ quoted unnamed administration sources who said that visa holders already in the US are unlikely to be impacted by this.
Indians are the largest beneficiaries of H-1B visas, receiving about two-thirds of the 85,000 new visas issued each year.
US firms have been the key beneficiaries of the H-1B visa in recent years – seven of the top 10 in FY19 were US-headquartered tech firms.
Indian companies, meanwhile, have worked at localising their talent mix in the US, reducing the number of H-1B visas they apply for each year.
The share of Indian companies among the top ten visa recipients has dropped from 51% to 24% from 2016-2019, according to USCIS data.
“It is important for the US to access talent critical to the recovery phase. US enterprises need access to essential technology workers who are keeping critical infrastructure operating in the US,” Nasscom, the lobby group representing India’s $191-billion technology industry, said in a statement.
“Highly skilled workers on Non-Immigrant Visas (NIVs) such as H-1Bs and L-1s, are playing critical roles in the delivery of these services and the development of these products. Without their continued contributions, the economic pain would worsen, industry would slow, and the timeline for a treatment and cure could lengthen,” it said in a statement.
US President Donald Trump is considering a temporary ban on various employment visas, including the H-1B and L-1intra-company transfer permit, to deal with record unemployment numbers in the US as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the WSJ report said.
Jagdish Mitra, chief strategy officer of Tech Mahindra, said, “A post-Covid future is heavily dependent on the speed and scale of digitalisation and businesses need to accelerate this pace of transformation in order to stay agile, ensure continuity and growth. For all the developed economies, including the US, high-tech skills are essential to start the recovery process and ensure that critical and essential services continue to function smoothly.”
Poorvi Chothani, managing partner of LawQuest, an immigration law firm with offices in India and the US said that a lot would depend on the duration and nature of the restrictions.