Bengaluru/Washington: India’s largest information technology (IT) outsourcing companies, including Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd, have reduced their dependence on H-1B visas over the last three years, a US daily reported, reflecting these companies’ preparations to tackle the protectionist approach followed by the current US administration of President Donald Trump.

According to data analysed from 2015 to 2017 by San Francisco Chronicle, Wipro saw a 52.4% drop in number of visa applications filed by the company over the three-year period while TCS reported a 18.3% decline and Infosys saw 38.1% reduction. Wipro applied for only 5,812 visa applications for engineers to work in the US in 2017, while TCS applied for 13,537 and Infosys filed for 20,587 applications, according to data gathered from US Department of Labour by the US daily.

This decline in number of visa applications mirrors the commentary from each of the IT firms. Wipro, for example, claims that over 55 percent of the 13,000 people employed by the company in the US are local American citizens.

“Indian consulting firms, which have been accused of flooding the system with applications, have dramatically reduced their filings. Foreign nationals are exhibiting new reluctance to make the jump to a US company," the paper said as the process for filing H-1B visa application for the 2019 fiscal beginning 1 October, started on 2 April.

Still, since the decline in number of applications made by Indian IT firms was most in the last year, the paper noted that the Trump administration’s hard-line anti-immigration stance is taking its toll.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Envoy Global, a technology-oriented immigration services provider, reports that 26% of employers it surveyed have had to delay projects, and 22% of them have relocated work overseas as a result of the current uncertainties in the US immigration system, San Francisco Chronicle said.

The daily argued that study after study has shown that foreign-born workers are good for the US economy and good for US-born workers.

“When companies are allowed to hire the workers with the best skills for the job—regardless of where those workers happen to have been born—their increased competitiveness boosts all the industries around them," it said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, evidence suggests market demand for H-1B visas is ebbing. Daniel Culbertson, economist at Indeed Hiring Lab, says “searches related to the H-1B visa, as a share of all searches on Indeed.com, have consistently declined through 2017 and into 2018. In February 2018, searches for H-1B as a share of all searches on our site are down nine percent from the 2017...This also marks the thirteenth consecutive month of year-over-year declines. The decreased interest in H-1B related work from job seekers is a trend, not a temporary shift in preferences," he added.

The Wall Street Journal said corporations continue to struggle with a paradoxical labour market where 548,000 tech jobs remain open while unemployment in the technology sector hovers below full employment levels.

“There are lots of jobs, but not enough workers to fill them," it said.

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