In­dian Techies Skew­ered at H-1B Meet

Sen­ti­ment mostly ‘neg­a­tive’ at the meet or­gan­ised by US Cit­i­zen­ship & Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Surabhi.Agar­wal @times­

New Delhi: Pent up anger against out­sourc­ing, the H-1B visa pro­gramme and In­dian tech­nol­ogy work­ers spilled over dur­ing a re­cent re­view call or­gan­ised by a top US agency re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing law­ful im­mi­gra­tion to the United States.

The ‘na­tional lis­ten­ing ses­sion’ call on July 26, or­gan­ised by US Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS) as a part of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re­view of the coun­try’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, saw a wide va­ri­ety of par­tic­i­pants rang­ing from un­em­ployed Amer­i­can work­ers to ad­vo­cacy groups to tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies. Ac­cord­ing to peo­ple who are aware of the dis­cus­sions on the call, the sen­ti­ment on the call was mostly “neg­a­tive” with many peo­ple com­ment­ing about ill prac­tices at In­dian out­sourc­ing com­pa­nies, and some even going on to say that that there is a mis­match be­tween how much com­pa­nies paid H-1B visa hold­ers and how much they make them­selves. For in­stance, one US worker on call and who was in charge of in­ter­view­ing H-1B and L-1 work­ers com­mented that most of the work­ers ap­ply­ing for these visas weren’t highly skilled and his rec­om­men­da­tion to USCIS was to be “stricter”. An­other US worker from a tech com­pany said he has se- en fraud hap­pen­ing and sug­gested that the US should hike visa fees to curb their mis­use.

Out of the over 750 stake­hold­ers who joined the call, around 30 peo­ple of­fered com­ments. Call­ers were al­lowed to be anony­mous. Tran­scripts of such calls are gen­er­ally not made pub­lic. There were also in­di­vid­u­als who rep­re­sented un­em­ployed and re­placed US work­ers, as well as for­eign na­tion­als who may be in the US on var­i­ous em­ploy­ment-based visa pro­grammes, R Carter Langston, a spokesper­son for USCIS, told ET in an email re­sponse.

“I am not aware that spe­cific com­pa­nies or coun­tries were men­tioned dur­ing the call,” said Langston, adding that some In­dian-based com­pa­nies were rep­re­sented on the call.

How­ever, peo­ple track­ing US im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies ex­pressed dis­may at the tenor of dis­cus­sions. “I am ap­palled at and sad­dened by the anti-In­dian sen­ti­ments. Many of the neg­a­tive com­ments were specif­i­cally di­rected at In­dian com­pa­nies and In­dian H-1B work­ers,” Poorvi Chothani, a US-li­censed im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney, who is aware of the points raised dur­ing the call, told ET.

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