US proclamation to suspend work visas misguided: Nasscom

NEW DELHI: Industry body Nasscom on Tuesday termed the work visa suspension proclamation as “misguided” and said this could be harmful to the US economy, possibly forcing more work to be performed offshore since the local talent is not available in the country. The comments came after US President Donald Trump issued a proclamation to suspend issuing of H-1B visas – popular among Indian IT professionals – along with other foreign work visas for the rest of the year, aimed at helping millions of Americans who have lost their jobs due to the current economic crisis.

The proclamation that comes into effect on June 24 is expected to impact a large number of Indian IT professionals and several American and Indian companies who were issued H-1B visas by the US government for the fiscal year 2021 beginning October 1.

“The proclamation issued today barring the entry of certain non-immigrants into America and setting new conditions for others is misguided and harmful to the US economy…This new proclamation will impose new challenge and possibly force more work to be performed offshore since the local talent is not available,” Nasscom said in a statement.

It highlighted that the association’s members provide essential services to hospitals, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, state and local government agencies, financial institutions, technology and communications firms, grocers, manufacturers, and thousands of other businesses across the US.

“Highly skilled non-immigrants are playing critical roles in the delivery of these services and the development of these services and products.

“Without their continued contributions to the US economy, the economic pain would worsen, industry would slow, and the timeline for a treatment and cure of COVID-19 would lengthen,” Nasscom said.

It added that those on H-1B and L-1 visas pay taxes and contribute to their communities and to local economies in many ways as well.

Nasscom urged the US administration to shorten the duration of these restrictions to 90 days, saying lengthening these “burdensome restrictions” on US companies that are trying to recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic will “only serve to harm” the economy.

“…We hope that the administration will rethink its stated plans to move forward on a series of regulatory changes that would place additional restrictions and costs on visa programs while doing little more than amplifying the harm already being done to the US economy,” it added.

Nasscom noted that many US corporations, universities, medical facilities, research institutions, directly and through their associations, have asked the President not to take such action because of the harm it would do as the country reopens and recovers.

Such sentiments were also echoed by dozens of Republican and Democratic members of Congress and governors.

Google CEO Sunder Pichai has also expressed disappointment over the proclamation and said he would stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all.

Human rights bodies, in particular those working among immigrant communities, as well many American lawmakers have also urged Trump to revoke the suspension.

Nasscom said American workers are facing greater challenges than they have in years, but that does not mean that talent shortages do not continue to exist.

Nasscom added that despite national unemployment trends across the economy, the National Foundation for American Progress found that the unemployment rate for computer professionals went down from 3 per cent in January 2020 to 2.8 per cent in April 2020, according to its analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey.

“In this time of COVID-19 crisis and recovery, the administration’s policies that impact American businesses should follow the oath taken by healthcare professionals: first do no harm,” it emphasised.

US proclamation to suspend work visas misguided: Nasscom US proclamation to suspend work visas misguided: Nasscom Reviewed by TechCO on 7/12/2020 Rating: 5

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