In a recent move by the Trump administration, it has suspended issuing H-1B visas, H-2B, J visas, and L visas for skilled foreign workers, thus ensuring Americans get access to job opportunities until December 2020. The majority of the foreign workforce in the US, particularly Indians take up nearly 70% of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued every year serving tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, HP, Wipro, Dell, Infosys, and other tech companies.
H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows tech firms to employ skilled foreign workers and bring them to the US for employment up to six years in positions wherein skilled American workers aren't found. The H-1B visa holders are eligible to apply for a permanent residency in the US, and also buy property in the country.
This move will affect individuals who are all set to go to the US and their plans have been stalled owing to the coronavirus situation. However, those who have already secured visas and are working in the US will not be affected by this latest development.
Nonetheless, volatility and uncertainty in the economy prevail, to create job security concerns even among the well-settled, skilled foreign workers in the US. Also, foreign workers who have traveled back to their homelands (say India) during the coronavirus pandemic will not be allowed to re-enter the US until the end of the year.
The pandemic-related disruption is the reason behind Trump's clampdown on immigration. Some of the workers working for US companies for more than a decade have been asked to return back home and there have been significant layoffs. Many of the employees who have applied for passport renewals are stuck in-between, they cannot extend their visa nor can they change their status.
How will the return of the mass exodus of H-1B visa holders translate into India's gain?
Approximately 90,000 H-1B visa holders are asked to leave America. Also, the visa rejection rate has jumped up by three times in FY19 compared to FY15, according to an analysis of H-1B data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by the National Foundation for American Policy.
Among the IT companies, Wipro has seen the maximum rejection rate of more than 40 percent of its H-1B visa request in 2019, closely followed by Infosys, Tech Mahindra, and TCS at a slightly lower risk of around 38 percent, according to the latest RBI report. As many Indians are now required to leave the US and come back home, the American dream of many is fading away.
If the H-1B suspension announcement has brought your hopes down, and you're contemplating on what you will do next after returning to India, then here's an inspirational sneak peek of visa rejection experience shared by the co-founder of Snapdeal, Kunal Bahl.
Some 13 years ago, Kunal Bahl's visa got rejected when he was employed with Microsoft at its Seattle corporate headquarters. The rejection was disappointing for the 36-year-old entrepreneur initially, but later he transformed it into an opportunity by establishing Snapdeal in India.
In 2007-08, when India was in the first phase of tech-boom, Kunal Bahl along with his friend Rohit Bansal, met investor Vani Kola, MD of Kalaari Capital (which was initially called Indo-US Advisors), and decided to start an offline couponing company. Bahl's entrepreneurial journey began since then with no looking back. This is how Bahl's visa rejection experience helped him to create Snapdeal in India - a story of the USA's loss and India's gain.
The US loses out on best talent, other markets lure them
The recent clampdown on immigration of foreign skilled workers will make the US become a less attractive destination for "on-site opportunities". The brain drain thus witnessed would mean other countries can make the most of the opportunity to lure the best talent from the US.
The changing world of work and seamless connectivity through the Internet across geographies during the Covid-19 pandemic has made it possible for employees and organizations to accept the new normal. Employees are now allowed to work-from-home in a remote setting. So denial of H-1B visas will barely impact the remote working talent.
India is thus seeing a huge opportunity right now, with the talent supply coming back home. It's time we harness the potential of the best talent, brightest minds in the business, and shine bright. After all, the H-1B visa freeze and proclamation made by the Trump government is not all bad news, there are good aspects to it as well.