India's information technology body NASSCOM is upset with US President Donald Trump's immigration ban saying that the sector should be categorized under "essential services".
US President Donald Trump brought a temporary suspension of immigration to the United States through a proclamation on Wednesday, but what will worry many Indians is the decision of the American government to review non-immigrant programs, which include the H1B visa program.
The immigration suspension will be in effect for the next 60 days, and the US President has also said that in the next 30 days, the Department of Home Security and Department of Labour will review non-immigrant programs and will recommend measures to stimulate the US economy and prioritise hiring and employment of American workers.
USA has given an exemption for some categories from the suspension, including medical workers and essential workers working on combating COVID-19. Nasscom believes that IT workers should also be counted as essential workers.
“There is clear intention to exempt essential workers including medical workers from the suspension. Our view is that technology workers also offer essential services,” said Shivendra Singh, head, global trade, Nasscom.
Singh said technology workers are critical for hospitals, remote education, and other areas during the recovery phase.
”Our view is that technology workers be classified as essential by the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This should be considered by Dept of Home Security as part of the final recommendation,” Singh added.
Nasscom did not comment on whether these recommendations will be submitted to US authorities.
The move by the United States to clamp down on immigration comes as the country reported rising cases of unemployment. The American President said on Wednesday that in the month from March 13, when the national emergency was declared in the US, and April 11, 22 million Americans had filed for unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis.
While the 60-day suspension will not be a very big concern for Indians, the IT sector will closely watch what steps the US administration takes on the non-immigrant visas.
Indians are the largest beneficiaries of the H1B visas and held three of out four H1B visas as of 2018, data from USCIS shows. Indians held 309,986 H1B visas as of 2018, which was 73.9 percent of the total H1B Visas.
For Fy21, Indians comprised 68 percent of H1B registrations for FY21, followed by China, which accounted for 13.2 percent.
While it is still to be seen what measures are taken on non-immigrant visas, the current temporary suspension of immigration is going to hit scores of Indians who are in the line for a green card through the EB2 and the Eb3 visas.
According to Policy Research firm CATO.org, the backlog of applications of Indians for a Green Card through the EB2 and Eb3 route as of 2018 stood at 548,641 and projected years estimated to process all these applications was 54 years.
The EB2 visa is for Professionals with advanced degrees while the Eb3 is for professionals with a bachelor’s degree.
The US has announced an exemption for EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program from the temporary suspension.
First Published: IST