As President Donald Trump considers plans to create new rules that would curb H-1B visa extensions and could see thousands of mostly Indian skilled workers deported while they wait for their green cards, industry leaders in India are warning that the move could also hurt the U.S. economy.
The proposal, which was part of Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" initiative that he vowed to launch on the campaign trail, is being drafted by Department of Homeland Security leaders, sources have told McClatchy DC. If approved, it could see as many as 500,000 to 750,000 Indian H-1B visa holders forced to leave the U.S., IndiaToday.in has reported.
Those who have their green card approved would be able to return to the U.S., but it would essentially mean restarting the process of establishing a life in America.
Industry leaders in India have also warned that the new rules could cause a shortage of skilled workers in the U.S., potentially damaging the country's economy.
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), a trade association of Indian information technology, has warned that the move could create a shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. in core fields like science and technology.
"It is not only about the Indian IT industry, but about all Indians who use H-1B visas," NASSCOM President R. Chandrashekhar told Business Today.
"Given that there is a real problem of shortage of skilled professionals in the U.S., any disruptive move will be detrimental for both India and the U.S.," he said.
In an interview with the Times of India, he added: "The US has a big skill gap. Out of the 2 million vacant STEM jobs, 1 million are in IT related areas. All these measures, mostly political and emotive, aren't changing the skills gap and will hurt the American economy. All these factors have to be kept in mind by the US administration."
While the new rules could disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, some business leaders in India believe it could ultimately be a major gain for the Indian economy in the long run.
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Mahindra Group chief Anand Mahindra, whose firm Tech Mahindra employs more than 2,000 people in the U.S. suggested such a move would help India "rise."
If that happens, then I say ‘Swagatam, Welcome Home.’ You’re coming back in time to help India Rise... https://t.co/HD2rhHRxJq— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) January 3, 2018
"If that happens, then I say 'Swagatam, Welcome Home'," Anand tweeted. "You're coming back in time to help India Rise."
The H-1B program offers temporary U.S. visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers. But since taking office last January, the Trump administration has been cracking down on the scheme.
The government temporarily froze the option for premium processing for it, which allowed visa applications to be cleared within 15 days for an additional fee. The standard procedure is known to take anywhere between three and six months.
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