The move won’t really create too much change in the overall unemployment rate, says UB Pravin Rao.

Can you quantify the impact this US visa move is likely to have? Will it mean that the cost of doing business might go up or will it mean that clients will be more open to off-shoring more work? How are IT companies going to accommodate people who were on these visas?

There are two or three things. One is obviously if we have good talent outside the US, then it is not right to liberate the talent. So this may mean off-shoring. Second, with travel restrictions and visa processing, things have literally come to a halt in the last couple of months. Even when it resumes, the processing may take some time but in the next six months, you will not see too much movement of talent anywhere. So at this stage it is very difficult to estimate any fact or any figure.

In the short term even without this ordinance for any increasing needs, we did not have talent offshore because we simply could not send talent from India. Either you have to do it working offshore or we will have to work offshore or we would have to rely on local hiring or local subcontractors. So that thing will probably continue for the next few months anyway. This ordinance is anyway ineffective till the end of December and probably will have a review at the end of it. I think better sense will prevail. At the end of the day, as you rightly said, the impact is minimal because most companies have de-risked their business model but I think it is in the larger interest of mobility. If there is no restriction on mobility of talent, it makes things very useful and it will only be positive to the growth of the economy.

The big trigger, of course, is going to be the US presidential elections. While Trump has signed this off till the end of the year, are you hopeful that they might bring down the duration or this might be suspended altogether once a new president comes in or is this going to be the tone going forward? What kind of eventualities are you preparing for at this point?
Right now it is on till December end starting September 21 or something. They will start relooking at it and make some modifications. So our hope is that better sense will prevail and they will probably try to modify it or limit it to maybe three months or so. That is something we hope for. But it is difficult to say. I think once the impact of lack of access to critical skills is felt and it does not really create too much change in the overall unemployment rate, better sense will prevail and they may start relooking at.

So this is not going to have a major impact for any of the players. Is that the conclusion?

No, I would not call it a non-event. In the short term, the reality is it would have been difficult to send talent anywhere given all the restrictions. But as I said, in the medium to long term, because there will always be calls for closer collaboration, people working together in customer sites and there will be some activity at the office. As I said a lot of activities could possibly be done remotely as well. And studies after studies have shown the economic benefit of highly skilled non-immigrants.







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