Figuring out which of his campaign promises Donald Trump will cheerily dismiss once in office is a sizable and flourishing business right now. But regardless of the destiny of climate change negotiations or a special prosecutor for Hillary Clinton, one theme of his campaign seems to have carried through into his transition: opposition to the present U.S. work-visa scheme. It could be worse news for India.
That is a fairly direct assault on the H1B program, under which 65,000 temporary workers -- and 20,000 with advanced degrees in technology-related fields from American universities -- are allowed to work in the U.S. each year. (Various renewals and nation-specific exemptions mean the total number of temporary workers is higher.)
However, you can reasonably ask if those words mean the things that they appear to mean, since Trump has a history of flip-flopping on this particular problem, sometimes within hours.
Luckily, a more explicit commitment from the president-elect than his words can be acquired. And that is his appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as the next U.S. attorney general. Sessions are one of the very hardline voices on immigration it is possible to discover -- and he's reserved special ire for the H1B program. Truly, he tried to effectively gut it in legislation he co-sponsored with Senator Ted Cruz. Sessions also co-wrote a letter to then-AG Eric Holder -- and two of his Cabinet colleagues -- demanding an investigation into "maltreatment" of the system by "some substantial, well known, publicly-traded corporations." (In another indication of how nativism unites the extreme right and also the radical left in the U.S., the letter was co-signed by a particular Senator Sanders.)
Therefore it is almost sure that the h 1b plan will not survive in its current form.
Well, one idea floating about will be to ensure any temporary workers make a pretty substantial wage -- the amount in the Cruz-Sessions bill was $110,000 a year. Another is always to replace the present lottery system having an auction keeping out lower- . But it is entirely possible the next administration will want to go further.
It is crucial that you notice that many of the executives started at the bottom -- Microsoft's Satya Nadella or Google's Sundar Pichai are unlikely to have pulled in the big bucks when they initially came from graduate school. It is near-impossible to design an immigration system that chooses merely the highest-paid but still protects the inventiveness and meritocracy that has made Silicon Valley the centre of the technology world. Half of all technology start ups in the U.S are founded by immigrants. Like all types of protectionism, the Bannon-Sessions eyesight would lower standards and reduce productivity, eventually causing the U.S. to lose the advantage -- and the income -- that comes with being the undisputed champion of innovation.
The other big loser, of course, will be India. The behemoths of the Indian IT sector -- companies like Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys -- are already fighting using a business model that technological change may have not made up-to-date. However they're still dependent on H1B visas: The set of top applicants underneath the software reads just like the directory of a Bangalore office park. For all these companies, getting temporary employees to directly service their customers in the U.S. used to be crucial. It was the most effective way to provide IT drove profitability and growth for both client and vendor, and services. Their decrease will accelerate unless they learn to adapt a lot quicker than they have before.
And finally, what of that much-loved figure, the Indian software guy in the U.S.? For years, getting an H-1B was the second-highest aspiration for a grad of one of India's many engineering schools -- surpassed in the hierarchy of needs solely by the key to the Garden of Eden, the green card. It's not a simple issue of more cash, by the way -- many H-1B hopefuls picture that going to America will mean they can change courses, and wind up doing work that is more interesting and productive than is commonly available back home. The H1B has been such a staple of Indian middle-class dreams for so long; I can't even picture after it's gone, what'll replace it.