Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has indicated that he would take up the visa issue with the US authorities during his visit to America. "These (IT industry issues) are matters of discussion with the appropriate authorities there. Once I do discuss and get an opportunity, I will let you know," he told reporters when asked whether he would take up concerns of the Indian IT sector with the US administration.
Jaitley will reach Washington on Thursday to attend the Spring Meetings of IMF and World Bank as well as deliberations of G20 nations. He is slated to meet the US Treasury Secretary, among others, during his five-day visit.
The Indian IT industry has expressed serious concerns over the US government moving towards tightening the rules for grant of H-1B visa, mainly used by domestic IT professionals for short-term work.
Companies like Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys that send engineers on H-1B visas to the US could come under pressure in coming days as US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to replace the current lottery system for issuing work visas with a so-called merit-based approach. IT Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said there was no cause for alarm, as the review process has just started. Industry body Nasscom warned that the move could have "unintended consequences" even though it downplayed any immediate impact on IT companies this year.
"No new changes are being implemented immediately ... Nothing is being proposed that would impact or change the FY18 H-1B lottery that is currently underway," Nasscom said in a statement today.
Nasscom also highlighted that there is shortage of highly-skilled domestic talent in the US in IT, healthcare, education, and other fields.
Industry chamber Assocham said Indian IT companies may face disruptions by way of higher costs and even some lay offs. It estimated that as much as 86 per cent of the H-1B visas issued for IT workers go to Indians and this number is likely to come down to about 60 per cent.
The H-1B visa programme is most sought-after by Indian IT firms and professionals to work on customer sites. Every year, the US grants 65,000 H-1B visas, while another 20,000 are set aside for those with US advanced degrees.
Most Indian IT companies get over 60 per cent of their revenues from the North American market.