Indian workers in United States are frantically looking for jobs back home

AK Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital Markets & Securities, said if salary levels for H-1B visas are hiked as proposed, Indian IT companies will significantly cut down on sending employees on these work visas to the US. However, Republican leaders - and the Trump administration - are pushing for their own changes to the H-1B system, and Republican Congressman Darrell Issa has introduced his own proposed law, which would raise the minimum wage for visa holders to $100,000.

As of January 31, a legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives which among other things, calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $130,000, making it hard for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers.

"The Lofgren Bill contains provisions that may prove challenging for the Indian IT sector and leave loopholes that will nullify the objective of saving American jobs", asserted Nasscom in a statement here.

The industry body has suggested that the U.S. should carefully calibrate the conditions keeping in mind the skill shortage in the US. The change could require more companies to prove that they indeed tried to hire USA workers first and hadn't displaced any Americans.

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H-1B visas are issued to qualified professionals. It also remarked that such Bills have to go through several legislative discussions before this can become a law.

President Donald Trump's actions on immigration have drawn attention from a number of Muslim majority countries and others.

While it is too early to say if the reforms Bill will be passed in its entirety, or with amendments, the scenario doesn't augur well for the Indian IT sector, which will have impact on other companies too.

"The Section 6 clause in the Bill aims to give preference to H1B visas sponsor companies which are giving higher wages to the applicants". The US issued more than a million visas to Indians in 2016, which accounted for 70% of all H1B visas issued worldwide, according to news reports.

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The draft proposal, however, does not have any specific new rules for H1B visas, but it calls for a report within 90 days on how to make the program more efficient. Another report on News18 mentioned that nearly INR 44,000 crore ($6.4 billion approx) were wiped out from the market due to the stocks tanking.

"India's interests and concerns have been conveyed both to the U.S. administration and the U.S. Congress at senior levels", said Vikas Swarup, spokesman at the Ministry of External Affairs. According to the associate consultant we spoke to, these minimum wages depend on the parts of the United States you are working in.

Another alternative, as suggested by an analyst, is a move towards automation of software services. "Overall, we remain positive on the IT sector, and now maintain our picks in the space-HCL Tech and Infosys", she added. The industries too are going to feel the impact. Hira's list shows that IBM was the largest non-outsourcing firm to hire H-1B visa holders that year, with 1,500 hirings, along with Amazon (877 hirings), Computer Sciences Corp. "Further, Indian providers will also try to pass on these increased costs to their American clients as this price increase will affect most providers", he added.

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