HomePoliticsWave of Alarm Ripples Over India as US Projects to Reform Work Visa Program

Wave of Alarm Ripples Over India as US Projects to Reform Work Visa Program

Some History

Despite a large demand for STEM graduates and degree-holders by US companies, there is a deficit in the number of Americans qualified to meet this demand. Therefore, many US companies seek tech and IT workers provided by Indian outsourcing firms through the H1-B visa. In fact, 69.4% of all H1-B visas are granted to Indians and outsourcing companies like Cognizant and Wipro obtain many more visas than typical tech companies like Microsoft and Apple.

Impact of the New Presidency

In light of Trump’s recent controversial immigration policy and protectionist agenda that aims to prevent US jobs from being taken by foreign workers, few can say it was really surprising that the President announced to change the way H1-B visas are distributed within the US work visa program that brings 85,000 foreign workers into the country annually.

Pros and Cons

This can mean negative repercussions for both the US and India. Indian tech workers gaining work experience in America furnishes their ability to return home and propel themselves to the role of leader of high Indian tech companies. And while gaining this hugely beneficial experience, these tech workers spur innovation and efficiency in the American companies they are deployed to work for. A surplus of Indian tech workers remaining in India can create competition for the same jobs and thus unemployment in India.


Many opponents argue that this work visa program is losing sight of its original purpose and thus support Trump’s reform efforts. The average salary of H1-B workers is much less than that of other workers- as much as $35,000 less than workers for widely-known companies like Google. Therefore, US tech companies have a large incentive to replace existent American job-holders with Indians willing to work for less pay- critics argue that these Indians could potentially be less competent than the American workers they’re replacing- and are allegedly using loopholes in the legalese to allow them to continue doing so.


Other proposed harms of the visa program is that the outsourcing companies exert significant control over their employees due to their ability to terminate the visa. These companies also prefer to operate by cycling between US and Indian workers rather than navigating the red tape of supporting their employees’ green card applications for permanent residency at the termination of their visa; somewhere between 0 and 16% of these companies actually help their H1-B workers in this process. Hesitation in validating green cards could mean disrupting the lives that many Indians who have been outsourced to the US have established for themselves.

What to Consider

The H1-B visa program is emblematic of a great mutualistic relationship between India and the US. The US is worth approximately $65 billion of India’s tech industry as a result of it sending its workers to assist US companies, and US industry can capitalize on the skillsets of Indian workers.


Companies that profit from H1-B have antagonized Congressional propositions to tighten visa rules. Alongside this, there have been calls made by US senators for increasing H1-B workers’ salaries, likely to make them less appealing to American employers. However, Trump ended up signing an executive order an executive order that mandates a fresh look at the H1-B visa. His hopes include that H1-B visas be granted to the most uniquely qualified and highest-paid applicants- rather than through a randomized lottery system- and they shall not be utilized to displace American workers. Nevertheless, political correspondents and diplomats have reported that India has voiced its concerns regarding the future involvement of Indians in the socioeconomic mix of America to Trump’s administration and Congress.


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