In Avasant’s view, the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to work visa programs and travel entry rules will have a marked impact on the technology services industry. With respect to work visa programs, especially the H1-B visa, the Trump Administration initiatives will slow down but not completely stop the influx of foreign technology workers into the US to meet demand. The US has become skeptical of the H1-B program with respect to its use by IT outsourcing companies, but remains supportive of using it to recruit highly skilled positions requiring advanced degrees. The direction of the Administration’s Executive Orders and proposed immigration legislation in the US Congress suggest that reform of the H1-B program will likely involve the following: (1) increases to minimum salary thresholds; (2) changes to the visa allocation model to favor small business start-ups, advanced degree holders, and foreigners studying in US universities; and (3) improvements in auditing and enforcement of visa rules among US based companies.
With respect to travel, the Trump Administration has made a number of different attempts to restrict entry into the US of foreigners from various countries in the Middle East. Despite setbacks in the courts on constitutional grounds, the Administration has continued to explore ways to impose travel restrictions, including a directive banning the use of certain devices larger than a mobile phone on certain flights emanating from various airports in the Middle East.
Taken together, the proposed or contemplated visa program changes, travel restrictions and the general change in climate will likely slow down, but not stop, the H1-B program or the influx of higher-skilled foreign workers into the US over the next few years. As companies deal with labor shortages and skills gaps, there will be an acceleration of trends already present in the marketplace towards automation, transformation, and offshoring. In addition, one should expect an increase in rebadging, local hiring, training, and strategic partnerships within the US to address the need to supply locally based staff.