Indian techies in US, UK worried

Via The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: In the past, the ‘H factor’ has largely driven the immigrant dreams of a large number of Indian techies. The H-1B visa that allows US companies and universities to employ skilled foreigners for speciality occupations and UK’s highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP) scheme that allowed skilled and qualified foreigners to move to UK without jobs or sponsors, have been the twin tracks for techies to enter the US and the UK.

However, today, both these programmes are under a cloud and that’s bad news for both Indian professionals and Indian companies. So even as the new US immigration bill gathers momentum, things seem to be getting tougher for H-1B visa holders, in whom US employers have invested heavily in training and talent management, in applying for green cards.

And the situation isn’t much better for thousands of Indians who went to the UK under the HSMP. This follows UK’s immigration minister Liam Byrne practically ruling out any softening of his government’s stand on the retrospective application of HSMP changes announced in November 2006.

United States India Political Action Committee, an organisation representing over 50,000 members of the Indian-American community and businesses owners, has been proactively highlighting the problems faced by H-1B holders and urging US law makers to look into these issues through the new legislation.

“We are very concerned over the H-1B visa programme and the failure of the US authorities to address the need for hiking the quota from the current 65,000. It is getting a lot harder for H-1B visa holders to transit to green cards, which is also a cause for worry. The H-1B visa holders are highly skilled individuals who gain further training in their jobs in the US.

However, the queue for green cards is only getting longer and there’s no assurance to these talented individuals on whether they will get a green card or not after five to six years. Such ambiguities in the H-1B programme hits the US technology sector very hard,” USINPAC chairman Sanjay Puri told ET.

The organisation has met the chairman of the House judiciary committee, Congressman John Conyers, and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, chairman of the House judiciary committee’s subcommittee on immigration, citizenship and international law.

In the UK, the HSMP Forum, an organisation addressing the problems faced by foreigners who moved to the UK under HSMP and may now be forced to leave, is continuing its struggle to attain the removal of retrospective changes.

“Our forum will continue to strive to attain removal of the retrospective changes and we hope that UK’s new prime minister and home secretary would look into the matter and the Indian government will continue to urge the British government to stop such unfair treatment of Indian HSMP holders,” Amit Kapadia, director and co-ordinator of the HSMP Forum told ET.

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