Earlier this year a Trump draft executive order on foreign worker visas was leaked to the press and revealed the administration’s intention to craft legislation prioritizing “the interests of American workers and — to the maximum degree possible — the jobs, wages, and well-being of those workers.”
While that specific executive order was never issued, rule changes quietly implemented by the Department of Homeland Security in April effectively accomplished the same goal and took direct aim at tech companies and their excessive use of the H-1B program. Per The Hill:
Without fanfare, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday issued a policy memo that would make it harder for companies to fill computer programmer positions with workers on H-1B visas. The memo stated that being a computer programmer is no longer sufficient to qualify as a “specialty occupation.”
The agency followed up Monday by announcing that it would begin to crack down on H-1B visa abuses by conducting targeted site visits to companies with a high proportion of high-skilled visas in their workforce.
“The H-1B visa program should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country,” the agency said. “Yet, too many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged.”
Now, Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka has announced plans to hire 10,000 U.S. workers because he suddenly “needs the ability to be local” and because it is “absolutely the right thing to do.” And while we have no reason to doubt Sikka’s sincerity, it does seem convenient that he has just now realized his company’s need to “be local.”
“In the fast-changing world of today, we need the ability to be local. We need to be trusted by our customers as being local,” said Chief Executive Officer Vishal Sikka in an interview from Indiana. “To work with a mix of global and local talent is absolutely the right thing to do.”
“We are not only hiring computer science specialists but also engineers with software development aptitude and potential who we will train and prepare,” he said in the interview. “In the past two years, through the non-profit Infosys Foundation, we’ve trained 2,500 teachers and over 135,000 students and that has gone extremely well. The number of people we have trained is almost getting to the size of our delivery organization and we will be tapping these.”
“This is positive in one aspect and negative in another: Increasing local hiring is important for Indian IT firms to retain ongoing projects in the US, as well as secure new ones. The downside is that the costs will rise,” said Urmil Shah, Mumbai-based analyst at IDBI Capital Market Services Ltd.
Here is the now infamous Trump tweet from back in March that likely sparked Sikka’s sudden interest in an “ability to be local.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2016
As we’ve pointed out before, Infosys is the largest user of the H-1B visa program with over 25,000 filings per the Department of labor.
Another victory for Trump.