H1B visa changes could benefit Indian IT professionals: Expert

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump's proposed changes to the H-1B visa program may end up benefiting Indian IT professionals in terms of higher wages, a US expert today said.

The new rules for the visas could raise labour costs for both technology companies and businesses using outsourcing services in the US, said Ignatius Chithelen, founder and managing partner of Banyan Tree Capital Management in a op-ed at the Wharton website.

"These extra costs are estimated to be about USD 2.6 billion a year. The assumption is that the visa holders will be paid USD 100,000 in annual wages, around the average at major companies based on online job postings, while the number of visas issued remains the same," he said.

Chithelen said the new visa policy is expected to be announced around November.

From next year, the visas could go to applicants with the highest wages and skills, and the number of H-1B visas issued may also be reduced since the focus is to "hire Americans", he said.
The large supply of technologists from India, eager to work in the US, has kept technology wages in the US from surging too high, especially when demand rises sharply as in the current social media boom and during the internet bubble of the late 1990s, Chithelen said.

"If, starting in 2018, H-1B visas are issued to those with the highest wages and skills, Indian professionals could benefit. Indians graduating with advanced degrees in the US and highly skilled professionals in India applying for H-1B jobs should then be able to find jobs with higher wages and better working conditions," he said.

According to a survey released by Harvey Nash Pulse, six in 10 US IT leaders with large development teams say Trump's proposed changes to the H-1B program will make skilled IT talent more scarce and increase the cost to hire skilled IT talent.

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