Trump’s order no threat to IT sector: Nasscom

Will lobby for critical tech staff, it says

U.S. President Donald Trump’s order banning immigration under various categories to the U.S. for 60 days need not be seen as a negative sign for the Indian IT sector, said Nasscom.

The sector’s apex body also said it would make strong recommendations to the U.S. administration to consider critical technology workers from India under the essential category, complying with the guidelines released by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

It’s too early to see any impact on the Indian tech sector, but what came out is the first executive order speaking about permanent immigrants, green card holders and also about people who are outside of the country, Shivendra Singh, vice- president and head, immigration, Nasscom, told The Hindu.

However, the order will not apply to the more than six lakh Indian H-1B visa holders and their spouses who are currently in the U.S, he said, adding “there’s no immediate effect, still we will have to see how these numbers pan out in the future. But the key issue is the exemption to certain categories including healthcare workers, who are critical and essential to helping both American people and the US economy recover during these trying times.’’

The apex body said it was extremely supportive of the executive order, however added the U.S. should give access to Indians who are working in healthcare as well as essential technology workers who are also playing a key role in maintaining critical infrastructure in hospitals, industries, online education sector and the likes in the U.S. The category should also include people who are actively involved in efforts to develop treatments and cure for COVID-19 and other diseases, it said.

”We believe that critical tech workers should also be considered as essential workers. In the order, there are directions given to the Department of Labour and Department of Home Security to come back in 30 days with subsequent policy recommendations for non immigration and other category workers and H-1B, L1 and L2 visas fall into it. In fact, CISA itself has given examples of jobs and employees that are essential and this can be an ideal guideline to decide who is essential,” added Mr. Singh.

In introducing the guidance, CISA stated: Functioning critical infrastructure is imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety as well as community well-being. Certain critical infrastructure industries have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations.

”We believe that DHS has provided an excellent roadmap for any subsequent potential recommendation for Non-immigrant and other visa categories,” Nasscom added.

Commenting on the immigration scenario, Stella Nagesh, an immigration professioal based in Bengaluru, said the pandemic was likely to increase visa rejection rate to a much higher levels.

”We already hear about cases techies’ visa extensions denials in the last few days and more such incident are expected. This year we saw how the traditional quota system was broken and replaced with a random selection process. Visa rejections have been on the rise in the last couple of years and in 2019 itself more than one third of applications were rejected by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,’’ added Ms. Nagesh.

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