A delegation of Indian IT sector executives led by NASSCOM Chairman Mr. C.P. Gurnani and President Mr. R Chandrashekhar has concluded a visit to Washington, DC, in which they engaged in a number of meetings with key policymakers in Congress and the Trump Administration, as well as several important allies from US industry and elsewhere. The group was in Washington from February 27 through March 2 to continue the dialogue with U.S. policymakers on the contributions of the Indian IT sector to the U.S. economy, in the overall context of the increasingly important U.S.-India relationship.
Specific topics of discussion included the H-1B visa program, which faces calls for new restrictions by some members of Congress and some allies of President Trump. Among those officials met with were Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), influential members of Congress who have sponsored legislation on the issue; as well as key congressional staff and officials in the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The group attended a reception for the National Governors Association at the residence of Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna that was also attended by more than 25 U.S. state governors, along with CEOs of U.S and Indian companies, and key governmental officials. Last month, NASSCOM met with a delegation of members of Congress visiting India, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
"From our recent meetings, it is clear that our sector has more work to do in educating U.S. policymakers on the mutual benefits of strong India-U.S. trade in IT services," said Mr. R. Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM. "In some cases, those benefits and the actual workings of the visa programs are not well understood.
"That said, we remain hopeful that further dialogue between government and business leaders in both nations will lead to a better understanding of the high-skill visa issues, which will in turn inform constructive reforms," he added. "We appreciated the openness of the policymakers and their advisors to engage in substantive, candid discussions."
India-U.S. Trade in IT Services Helps Make the U.S. More Competitive
By helping thousands of U.S. businesses improve their operations, create new products and services, and gain market share, India-based IT companies doing business in the United States are protecting and creating jobs for Americans. Every reputable data source - from the U.S. Department of Labor and National Science Foundation to the Brookings Institution - has documented a growing shortfall between the supply and demand for computer science majors in the U.S. workforce, especially in cutting-edge fields such as cloud, big data, and mobile computing.
Without access to high-skilled IT workers on visas, many U.S. companies would be forced to choose between shifting more IT work offshore or delaying innovation. Either approach would reduce overall employment for Americans. NASSCOM believes additional restrictions on the H-1B or L-1 visa systems would hurt thousands of U.S. businesses by hindering access to much-needed talent.
Further, any new requirements aimed at protecting U.S. workers should be applied to all visa sponsors to ensure a level playing field and equal protection of all workers. Most of the existing legislative and administrative proposals would not actually protect American workers, since the proposed restrictions would be applicable only to a small group of companies that account for a minority of new visas issued.
"As responsible corporate citizens, our members comply with all applicable laws and regulations, employ over 100,000 in America and continue to add additional U.S. citizens in well-paying jobs by the thousands; and support efforts towards local hiring and skill building," said Mr. R. Chandrashekhar. "Now is the time to identify new measures that will maximize the synergies between our nations, create jobs in the US and India, and expand bilateral trade and investment."