Indian techies are losing out on all major markets 

19 April 2017 | Source: Economic Times

NEW DELHI: It is taking the ‘we’ out of visa

On Monday, Australia scrapped a visa programme used extensively for transfer of skilled foreign workers while US executive orders expected a day later will overhaul the H-1B system.

Tuesday morning reports suggest that US President Donald Trump will sign the ‘Buy American, Hire American’ order in Wisconsin, with focus on increasing domestic production and manufacturing and making the H-1B visa merit-based instead of a lottery.

In Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has done away with the 457 visa, a four-year-old system for entry of highly skilled migrants.

IT industry watchers described it as a “surprise move” since 95,000 skilled migrants are in Australia on 457 visas, a sizeable portion being Indian techies. The Indian information technology industry is grappling with popular protectionist sentiment and efforts to curb labour intake in nearly all its major markets.

Australia is the third country to have reformed or amended its work visa or permit programme in less than two months for protecting local jobs or curbing professional migration Singapore, another large market for the Indian IT industry in Asia-Pacific, has kept over 200 work permit applications on hold since last year. The UK also significantly increased the cost of visas used by Indian techies.

“From an IT industry perspective, there will definitely be a challenge,” said Rajesh Gupta, India operations partner at consultancy ISG. He said outsourcing deals where IT services providers have been trying to send low-cost resources to foreign markets will be impacted. “Some have already started hiring locally, due to which cost is definitely going to increase. These service providers are going to start negotiating those deals as they come up for renewal.”

The larger issue, experts feel, is how Indian techies are perceived overseas. “The real problem for Indian IT services companies is that they occupy positions of very low strategic relevance,” said Rajiv Dabhadkar, founder of the National Organisation for Software and Technology Professionals. Rituparna Chakraborty, executive vice-president at hiring firm Team-Lease, expects a shift in strategy in terms of profiles of IT workers that are likely to be deployed in the US and the UK.

“There is a visible impact on fresher hiring for overseas deployment and that is unlikely to change dramatically.” Vineet Nayar, former HCL Technologies chief executive, said changes by USCIS will have a marginal impact on IT companies in the medium term.

“I see two big impacts for Indian IT engineers. The number of returning engineers whose visas will not be reviewed will create oversupply of talent… Second, Indian IT investment in helping gain rare skills will be impacted by margin pressures. Thus, probability of being deployed in the US has definitely reduced significantly,” he said.