Sunday, 12 July 2020 08:31

Tata outsourcing chief slams Trump order on work visas Featured

Tata outsourcing chief slams Trump order on work visas Pixabay

An American executive order on H-1B visas will only hit US firms badly, as it will prevent intra-company transfers by Indians who are working for American banks, automobile companies and pharmaceutical firms, the head of Tata Consultancy Services, India's biggest outsourcing company, has warned.

This would end with these companies having to pay more in hiring costs, TCS chief executive Rajesh Gopinathan told the Bloomberg news service.

While there have been other statements by stakeholders in India's US$181 billion IT industry that criticised US President Donald Trump's June executive order to stop approving visas until the end of the year, Gopinathan's reaction was much stronger than the rest.

The other suspended work visas are the H-4, which is used by the spouses of some people on H-1B visas, the H-2B for low-skilled workers, some J visas for cultural and education workers and the L-1 visa that allows intra-company transfers.

Many Indians who are on H-1B visas are put to work at American firms on one project. By law, they have been able to be moved to another project in the same company. That has now been blocked.

Prior to the new law, if an intra-company block was placed on anyone, then the company that was providing the labour could bring in another person on an H-1B visa. Now that is not possible either.

Trump came to office with promises to reform the H-1B visa process and introduce a number of changes that would skew the system to favour Americans and not foreigners as has been the case all these years.

American industry chieftains have criticised the Trump order, with Apple chief executive Tim Cook saying in a tweet: "Like Apple, this nation of immigrants has always found strength in our diversity, and hope in the enduring promise of the American Dream. There is no new prosperity without both. Deeply disappointed by this proclamation."

Microsoft president Brad Smith also expressed his disappointment, saying: "Now is not the time to cut our nation off from the world’s talent or create uncertainty and anxiety. Immigrants play a vital role at our company and support our country’s critical infrastructure. They are contributing to this country at a time when we need them most."

The logic advanced for Trump's order is that it will ensure Americans can be first to access new job opportunities in the wake of the pandemic that has caused massive job losses. The order is projected to free up to 525,000 jobs.

Gopinathan did not mince his words, saying: “The ignorance around this ruling should be addressed. Playing with the status of people who’ve moved away from families and committed to spending five to six years in a foreign country without immigrant status to deliver value to customers, is a short-term gimmick.

TCS' profits have dipped after the coronavirus pandemic hit the operations of its clients in the US. While the visa restrictions had no effect on TCS' own business, Gopinathan said its workers would be upset. "The attitude towards us in a country where we contribute significantly is unexpected and unfortunate," he added.

"“We invest in skills and make this talent available in a fungible manner for use by customers," Gopinathan said. This helped clients avoid “large fixed costs to have access to this kind of talent", he added.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.





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