The temporary suspension of H-1B and other non-immigrant visas by President Donald Trump along with other restrictive policies on immigration is detrimental to the United States and its economy, president of a top American business advocacy group has said.

“It (the proclamation) is unfortunate,” Nisha Desai Biswal, president of US India Business Council (USIBC) told PTI in an interview. Trump had earlier this week issued a proclamation to suspend issuing of H-1B visas, popular among Indian IT professionals, along with other foreign work visas for the rest of the year. Trump argued that the step was essential to help millions of Americans who have lost their jobs due to the current economic crisis. However, the US Chambers of Commerce and USIBC do not agree.

“I think that the United States has benefited greatly over the years by successive waves of immigration and most particularly the skilled workers that have been coming in under these H-1B visas and L-1 one visas that have enabled necessary talent to come in and augment American workers in support of technology fields,” Biswal said.

Ironically, many of the companies that utilise H-1B workers are also using and creating training programmes to create integrated teams that can support the work. And that can bring more American workers into the skills that are necessary for these jobs, she said. “So, in curtailing the programme, I think it is actually going to impede the upskilling of American workers to be able to take on many of these jobs,” Ms Biswal said.

“The challenge that companies face is that the work needs to be done and the companies that are providing IT services and the companies that are utilising this talent, if the talent is not available in the United States, I’m worried that the jobs will actually go offshore,” she said.

There are other countries that are competing to draw some of that investment and bring in these workers as a competitor to the US, she said. Observing that the United States is a hub of innovation and talent, she noted that Trump’s policy on work visas is only going to hurt America”s own competitiveness, inhibit economic investment, and have a counterproductive effect.

“The US has been able to grow and be at the head of research and development of innovation because we have for over decades and decades been able to draw the best and the brightest from around the world,” she said.

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US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation earlier this week suspending the entry of workers on the H-1B and some other non-immigrant visa programmes. The order came into effect from June 24 and will expire on December 31.

Indian IT industry body NASSCOM has termed the suspension ‘misguided’ and harmful to the US economy. The CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donahue said, “This proclamation is a severe and sweeping attempt to restrict legal immigration. Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back.”

Tech majors like Google, Apple, Amazon and Tesla have also slammed the move. Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to Twitter to voice his concerns. He said, “Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today. Disappointed by today’s proclamation – we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all.”

To discuss the concerns regarding the suspension of H-1B and other non-immigrant visa programmes, CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan spoke to the President of the US India Business Council (USIBC), Nisha Biswal.

Video Interview 

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