Trump’s Immigration Pause Unlikely To Impact Indian IT Companies
An Indian passport sits on a desk along with a set of visa application forms in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Trump’s Immigration Pause Unlikely To Impact Indian IT Companies

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily suspend immigration for two months is likely to have little or no impact on Indian software service providers.

“It’s more of optics than anything else,” said Harish H, managing partner at ECube Investment Advisors. “Nobody is traveling or will travel for a while even if the lockdown is lifted. And since it’s just for two months, there isn’t going to any impact on the Indian IT employees.”

R Chandrasekhar, former president of Nasscom, agreed. The impact of Trump’s pause would be very limited, and if it is only for just 60 days, then there will be no impact, he told BloombergQuint. “This may not apply to people who are already in the U.S., and is only for employees who intend to go to there. But, in the current situation, nobody is willing to travel.”

Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday temporarily curbing issuing of new green cards for would-be U.S. permanent residents for 60 days as he aims to limit competition for jobs at a time America takes steps toward reopening its economy. “This will ensure unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” he said at a White House briefing.

The Covid-19 pandemic has stalled economic activity and disrupted global trade as nations sealed their borders to curb spreading of infection. The highly contagious pathogen has infected more than 2.6 million worldwide, including over 183,000 deaths.

The U.S. alone reported 842,712 Covid-19 cases, of which 46,756 succumbed to the virus, forcing it to impose broad travel curbs on China, Europe, Canada and Mexico.

While Trump’s order only applies to foreign nationals on foreign soil seeking residency in the U.S. and will not affect those who currently have valid visas or travel documents, the president in his proclamation asked officials to review non-immigrant programmes, including H-1B visas, in the next 30 days.

Already for the ongoing financial year, the U.S. has received around 275,000 fresh requests for H-1B visas—that allows highly-skilled foreigners to work in the U.S. for at least three years. Of these, 67 percent were from India and 13.2 percent from China, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data showed.

Trump’s order came a day after the U.S. CIS gave its nod to extend H-1B visas that have expired or are set to expire.

But Indian IT companies, such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and Infosys Ltd. have already ramped up local hiring in the U.S. and Europe. And thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for travel and on-site deployment is expected to further come down.

Already, most of the service providers have set up their operations to work remotely to reduce dependency on sending employees overseas, said Ashutosh Sharma, vice president and research director at Forrester Research. “There’s already an impact on the business due to Covid-19, there won’t be any additional impact due to this immigration pause.”

Sharma, however, said it was too early to comment on what impact it would have on IT jobs after the reassessment of non-immigration visa. Given 2020 is an election year in the U.S., coupled with the surge in layoffs due to the pandemic, job protection is going to be high on agenda, he said.

N Ganapathy Subramaniam, chief operating officer at TCS, said India’s largest software services exporter is working on a delivery model that requires only 25 percent of workforce to be present in an office, based on its learning from the work-from-home model in the last three weeks.

Also Read: Indian IT Firms’ Covid-19 Working Model Is Here To Stay

“We also believe that 25 percent of the team of any project may not be in a single location,” he had said last week during the company’s post-earnings conference.

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