There is a growing argument for and against the issue of H-1B Visa that allows skilled foreiners to come and work in the US, the land of opportunities. Arguing that limiting the number of H-1B visas would have an impact on the global competitiveness of American firms, an influential Indo-U.S. business advocacy group has called for expanding the number of work visas granted to foreign technology professionals each year.
“One of the areas the U.S. has to look at is H-1B. How do you expand that? By limiting the number (of H-1B visas) and making it expensive, it does have an impact on U.S. companies,”Mukesh Aghi, president of the U.S. India Business Council told the media.
Under congressionally mandated existing laws, every year the U.S. grants 60,000 H-1B visas and another 20,000 to foreign professionals who get higher degrees from a U.S. university. This year the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received thousands more applications for H-1B visas than it could grant, forcing it to decide on successful applicants through a computerized drawing of lots.
Documented research and statistics have proven time and again that H-1B is one of the major drivers of the U.S. economy, particularly in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship. While H-1B is not a major issue this presidential election cycle, New York-based real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who is leading the Republican presidential polls, came out with a recommendation to increase the salary for H-1B visa holders, which along with his other proposals would make it tough for U.S. companies to hire foreign workers on H-1B visas.
Indian technology professionals are one of the major beneficiaries of H-1B visas. For quite some time, leading U.S. technology companies, including Microsoft, Facebook and Google, have been calling for an abolishment of the limit on H-1B visas. In response to a question, Aghi dismissed the recent proposal of Trump.
“Politicians make proposals just to attract votes. Our position is that Indian workers who come on H-1B visas do bring efficiency and competency to U.S. companies,” said Aghi, who before joining USIBC was a member of the board of directors and CEO of Larsen and Toubro InfoTech.
“We support H-1B, and we would like to expand it,” he said. When asked about Trump’s proposal to hike the basic salary of H-1B visa proposals, the USIBC president said no one can “dictate” to corporations what kind of salary it needs to pay its employees. “It is not the business of the government to be in business,” he asserted, adding that it should be decided by market forces. If India does the same thing, where you have to pay a minimum salary to U.S. people coming to India, then it does have an impact on the U.S. cost structure. It can be reciprocal. Not just with India but with any other country,” he observed.