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US President Donald Trump at his inauguration on Jan 20, 2017. (Photo: White House)

Trump Ban on Immigration Unnerves Indian IT Workers in US

India, first among the countries playing to the gallery when congratulating US President-elect Donald Trump, is slowly biting its fingers for the knee-jerk reaction as the first week of his presidency has clearly spelled Doomsday on H1B visas, while the ban on Muslims from 7 countries, though partially, was rolled out in haste.

Though a New York federal judge issued an emergency stay on the order on Saturday, the shocking weekend Visa ban from the Trump Administration was not entirely unexpected and the music to many ears is that there are still four more drafts in his war chest to be fired off in the next weekend, affecting all IT companies, hitting hard the business returns of Indian companies in particular.

Ironic but our budget will be out on February 1, increasing the Service tax and an array of other corporate taxes choking the business environment in India further from within and outside. Trump cannot be faulted as India is equally harping on “Make in India” slogan for foreign companies, which is in the same spirit as “Buy American and America First” policy of Modi’s counterpart.

Trump’s Friday order was on illegal immigration, which Trump has put at 30 million while national research institutes like the Pew Research Center reported in March 2015 that the number of illegal immigrants could be 11.2 million as of 2012. On the issue of legal immigration, especially of Indians under the H1B visa, his next order is reportedly drafted already impacting them with a variety of limits on their legal immigration and guest-worker visas, including a “temporary ban” on granting green cards.

Wary about the weekend developments, several US tech companies have asked their employees on H1B to return to the US immeidately, but the over-reactive immigration at the airports has already created chaos augmenting the fears of Indians, who are the major beneficiaries of the H-1B visa program.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai in an internal note to employees said that more than 100 Google staff are affected by the order. “It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues. We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticised Trump’s decision to limit immigrants and refugees from Muslim nations as against the spirit of America which is essentially an immigrants’ nation.

Besides these announcements, reports said other drafts on “improved monitoring of foreign students”, “making site visits” of workplaces that employ L1 visa holders by US Department of Homeland Security officials, scrapping of visa permit to students with STEM degrees to stay in the US for as much as three years after graduating from college among others.

Indian tech lobby NASSCOM chief R Chandrashekhar said the industry is in a “wait-and-watch” mode over the rising protectionist sentiments in its largest free market.

The current ban of Syrians and travellers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, including those with dual nationality that includes one of those countries, will have to bear the brunt of ban for the next 90 days while the courts and executive will strive to wriggle out a solution.

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