US visas: India on waiting list
Siddharth Tak and Ankita Chakrabarty/ ZRG
The Obama administration has put India literally on the waiting list mode!
At the third highest rank, India forms about eight per cent of the overall immigrant waiting list, with about 3.43 lakh Indians waiting to wind their way into the city of their dreams.
The access denial is most acute when it comes to the employment preferences category where India accounts for about 21 per cent of the waiting list category with about 26 thousands professionals in the queue.
The data makes for interesting reading of the relationship between the two countries on the ground. It also puts into context the ground reality of the emerging global economic situation.
Mexico and Philippines, at number one and two rank respectively, together account for about 40 per cent of the overall immigrant waiting list, according to the fiscal 2012 data furnished by the US Department of State.
In contrast Pakistan, with which US during the recent past experienced frostiness in the relationship, accounts for just about three per cent of the overall immigration waiting list. Bangladesh too does much better than India accounting for just over 3.5 per cent of the waiting list.
According to A T Kearney Global Services Location Index 2011, India topped the list of countries as an outsourcing destination followed by Mexico at sixth rank and Philippines at ninth rank respectively. Pakistan stood at 28th rank.
The US policy shift is apparent since L-1 visa approvals in India went down from 35,896 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 to 25, 898 in FY 2011, a drop of approximately 10,000 visas. While this represented a 28 per cent fall, during the same period the aggregate L-1 visa growth from other countries stood at about 15 per cent.
But what would explain the obvious tilt away from India? “This is an election year in USA. Immigration is a very sensitive issue in such a scenario. To compound this, the USA unemployment rate is stubbornly around 9 percent. So, India stands like a `Sore Thumb` in terms of number of visas granted over the last decade,” explained Kris Lakshmikanth, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Mumbai based The Head Hunters India, a HR practices consulting firm.
“The current situation is because of the economic slowdown and political instability. Countries all over are becoming less global. India is seen to be as one of the biggest competitors as far as IT jobs are concerned, “lamented Ambarish Raghuvanshi, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Naukri.com.
Lakshmikanth at The Head Hunters described the US move to put India on the waiting list as “an indirect tariff barrier set up by US.” “This is against the principles of free trade. It wants free trade in products but not in services,” he asked.
Raghuvanshi at Naukri links the decline in visas to the ongoing economic crisis facing India as well. “When a company does outsourcing for a US client, it does both onshore and offshore servicing. The number of visas and cost attached to it also has a role to play in the decline in issue of visas,” he added.
India’s primary outsourcing lobby body, Nasscom, however, is optimistic. “This situation is primarily because of decline in L-1 visa which is issued for temporary purposes. But it is too early to comment on whether this would have a direct influence on hiring of Indians by USA,” said Ameet Nivsarkar, vice-president, Global Trade Development, at NASSCOM.