Following the controversial travel ban on foreign nationals from seven Muslim countries, US President Donald Trump may soon crack down on US temporary work visas including the H1B and L1 visas that are used widely by Indian tech companies, PTI reported citing a top White House official.
A draft of the executive order was leaked and reported by several news sites earlier this week.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters the move to limit H1Bs and other visas would be part of a larger immigration reform that Trump is pushing through to Congress, said the report.
According to the leaked draft, Trump is also likely to overturn the existing duration of the optional practical training work visas known as OPTs, which are issued to students after the completion of their studies to gain work experience.
"You've already seen a lot of action on immigration and I think whether it's that or the spousal visas or other type of visas, I think there's an overall need to look at all of these programmes. You'll see both through executive action and through comprehensive measures a way to address immigration as a whole and the visa programme," PTI reported Spicer as saying.
According to media reports, the proposed new rules would raise the minimum salary for those applying for H1-B visas to $130,000 from the current $60,000.
Even before the passing of this order, Indian tech workers on these visas are facing difficulties in returning to the US, with many stranded in India with slower processing of their visas, the Economic Times reported.
A US Embassy spokesperson in New Delhi told ET these checks are part of regular "administrative processing" that sometimes "take longer to resolve" and that the country's "visitor screening and vetting procedures are constantly being reviewed and refined."
H1B and L1 visas are a class of non-immigrant visas that allow US companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. Many Indian technology companies such as TCS, Wipro and Infosys rely on these visas to deploy Indian tech workers with the company's client sites in the U.S. According to estimates, the Indian IT industry has at least 350,000 workers on these visas, ET noted. In addition to Indian IT companies, several Silicon Valley companies also use these visas to employ skilled workers from overseas.
Several Silicon Valley execs including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google Chief Sundar Pichai recently criticised the the new Trump administration's immigration ban on the seven Muslim-countries, extending support to their employees.
Indian tech outsourcing companies have been largely silent on the matter. Recently, Wipro CEO Abidali Z. Neemuchwala played down the threats that restrictions on H1B place on the company, saying the Wipro is instead focused on hiring more Americans and local workers.
"We continue to focus on localisation. We intend to continue hiring locally and invest in delivery and innovation centres in the U.S.," The Hindu reported Neemuchwala as saying.
On Tuesday, shares of major IT tech companies fell dramatically following the news of the crackdown. The BSE IT index, slid over 4 per cent, NDTV reported. Shares of TCS were down 5.6 per cent; Tech Mahindra stock was down 9.7 per cent, HCL Tech shares slid 6.3 per cent, Infosys down 4.6 per cent, and Wipro declined 4.23 per cent.
With PTI inputs