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The 2020 United States presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020 and Trump will do everything possible to ensure that he comes back again. He might have put off all talks on the virus, denying the danger it presents but what he does see is that there is a growing voice of dissent over the H1B visa. And for him, H1B presents more danger than Covid.

Like this website for laid off employees from IT companies, thelayoff.com; people who have been fired vent here and one of them said, “Retaining H1Bs while laying off American citizens is prosecutable visa fraud.

Another said, “American students spend well over $200K for a college education and then they get replaced by H1Bs: Welcome to the graduate class of 2020!

“H1Bs have job security while Americans get laid off.”

“Almost 50% of IBM's employees are in India, and the almost same percentage of the workforce in IBM USA is Indian. I assume the same true for other large tech companies such as Microsoft, Google. While USA economy is going down gradually, India's economy has been booming, all credit goes to US politicians and people who let that happen to US.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson, an American civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and politician (Democrat), said recently in an interview with Fortune magazine, “Foreign high-tech workers are taking American jobs and making Silicon Valley's diversity problem worse. There are Americans who can do that work, and H1B workers are cheaper and undercut wages."

The Texas, Iowa, and Maine Federations of College Republicans, representing thousands of college students, have signed a letter with another 30 college student groups requesting that the OPT program be ended and the H-1B visa program be suspended to reduce foreign competition in the labor market.

Get the gist of it?  Thus with the voices growing loud all across USA, despite Modi and Trump being buddy-chummy-pals, the restriction on H1B visas is a certainty. It is sure to impact thousands of Indians looking to go to USA but is unlikely that the visa restrictions would impact those currently working in the United States on a work visa.

It’s not exactly something which the Indian IT did not know about. This storm over H1B visa has been brewing for a few years now and many companies have either successfully shifted their base to Canada or retained only the best there while many employing Americans too.  

The new H1B visa restriction expected tonight will impact the Indian IT sector; no doubts about that. For companies like Infosys and TCS, over 60% of their business comes from USA. Many in the industry say that because this has been in the offing, many companies are working to shift offshore and it might take 18-24 months for complete realignment for the IT companies, finding a new way to work. So immediate impact, due to Covid as well as this restriction might be there in short term but won’t shock the companies into a state of comatose.

And look at it from America’s point of view too – can they afford to have these new restrictions? Today, skilled manpower from Asian countries do highly intellectual work for half the price, which ensures that the product which you, me and the Americans get is affordable. But the moment the wage bill goes up, the customer price will also go up. Infosys and TCS will renegotiate their prices to accommodate this increase and that is where it will hurt most.

Companies like Microsoft have offices all over the world and so do IBM, Cisco, Google, Amazon and scores of American companies. Simultaneously, the world is littered with startup ecosystems and tech hubs outside of the USA. Canada is sure to become the biggest gainer in this shakeup. If one may recollect, in 2007, it was immigration law which made Microsoft set up a satellite office in Vancouver, where they hired engineers whom they could not get into USA. Two years later, Bill Gates very vocally said that if limits are issued on H1B visas, the very place of dominance which US has over technology will come under treat. After that, Google, Facebook, Apple and some 10-12 more companies set up offices in Canada. Maybe it is Canada where the Indian techies will head to now.

Let’s be clear here – it not as though Americans do not have the skills and talent required; it is just that foreigners come cheaper. Companies really do not care for the people; they care only when they start making the money. They have no emotions; companies will simply follow where business is more attractive.

Let’s not write-off obituaries for the IT companies; it is a time of great change and a new way of life, which will take time to settle. Let us see how the IT companies cope with this new challenge – no one will be shutting shop, that’s for sure!

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