But Indian information technology workers might do better without the companies that held them back, says Mihir S Sharma.
Let’s give President Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he genuinely believes that he was elected to protect American workers.
He did promise on the campaign trail to “direct the Department of Labour to investigate all abuses of visa programmes that undercut the American worker”. But even if that were the stated motivation behind the changes his administration rolled out to the work visa programme recently, their effect is to help American companies, instead.
Three major alterations were made to the H-1B visa system by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS. It said it would make more “targeted” visits to companies that hire workers on H-1B visas. It would focus on cases where the companies were difficult to validate; where there was a high ratio of H-1B to “regular” workers; and, finally, places where H-1Bs worked “offsite at another company or organisation’s location”.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice issued a “caution” to companies seeking H-1B visas to “not discriminate against US workers”. It threatened to “investigate and vigorously prosecute” claims that US workers were disadvantaged by companies that had applied for H-1B visas.
A third US government agency, the Department of Labour, is similarly energised; its head promised during his confirmation hearings to investigate any layoffs that “result” from H-1B visas being granted.
This may not, of course, be as much a product of Mr Trump’s own instincts - to the extent he has any in this domain - as the long-held beliefs of some of his appointees. The man Mr Trump set to head the Department of Justice, for example, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has had a long history of attacking work visa programmes.