Indian outsourcers try to beat Trump

trumpuckerWorried that Donald “Prince of Orange” Trump is going to be a lot more protectionist about his tech visa programme India’s $150 billion IT services sector is going to speed up acquisitions in the United States and recruit more heavily from college campuses in the Land of the Fee.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys and Wipro have used H1-B skilled worker visas to fly computer engineers to the US for ages now. Staff from those three companies accounted for around 86,000 new H1-B workers in 2005-14. The US currently issues close to that number of H1-B visas each year.

However, given Trump’s election comments and his appointment of a long-time critic of the visa programme Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of Senator, many are expecting a tighter regime.

Pravin Rao, chief operating officer at Infosys said that the world was seeing a lot of protectionism coming in and push back on immigration.

“Unfortunately, people are confusing immigration with a high-skilled temporary workforce, because we are really a temporary workforce,” he said.

While few expect a complete shutdown of skilled worker visas as Indian engineers are an established part of the fabric of Silicon Valley,  it is being acknowledged that any changes will jack up the costs.

Rao said that the company must accelerate hiring of locals if they are available, and start recruiting freshers from universities there.

He said the new model will require the recruiting and training of freshers and gradually deploy them.

Trump’s election win and Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union are headwinds for India’s IT sector, as clients such as big U.S. and British banks and insurers hold off on spending while the dust settles.

Buying U.S. companies would help Indian IT firms build their local headcount, increase their on-the-ground presence in key markets and help counter any protectionist regulations.

Indian software services companies have invested more than $2 billion in the United States in the past five years. North America accounts for more than half of the sector’s revenue.