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Apple, IBM, Cisco are big because of Indians, don't deny them H-1B visa: RBI Governor

As the US under Donald Trump moves to make it difficult for Indians to get H-1B visa, RBI Governor Urjit Patel has warned against protectionism.

As the US under Donald Trump moves to make it difficult for Indians to get H-1B visa, RBI Governor Urjit Patel has warned against protectionism. Speaking in New York Patel said that big American tech companies are maintained and powered by talented Indians and without access to such skilled workers these companies may suffer.

"Where would Apple be, where would Cisco be, where would IBM be if they were not sourcing the best products and talent from across the world. And if policies come in the way of that, then the big wealth creators in a country that advocates protectionism are ultimately affected," he said.

"I don't think that we have heard the last word on US policy talk about this because there is a push back internationally that the world has benefited from an open trading system," the RBI governor said.

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Patel's statement comes weeks after US president Donald Trump signed an executive order emphasising that the H-1B should be used to bring on only very specialised workers in the US and not generic programmers and coders. The move is aimed at companies like Infosys and TCS that often hire Indian programmers and coders in the US instead of hiring locals, who may demand higher wages for the similar job.

Many in the US government also believe that Indian companies game the H-1B visa system and get disproportionate share of these visas. Nasscom, an industry body of IT companies in India, however, denies the allegations. "NASSCOM would like to clarify on the statements made by the White House on Indian Companies getting the lion's share of H-1B visas; and highlight that in FY 2015 only 6 of the top 20 H-1B recipients were Indian companies. Further, among the companies named, the two Indian companies namely TCS and Infosys together received 7,504 approved H-1B visas in FY 2015; which is only 8.8 per cent of the total approved H-1B visas," noted a Nasscom spokesperson.

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The organisation also said that the H-1B figures actually highlight the fact that India IT workers are skilled and very best in the world. "All Indian IT companies cumulatively account for less than 20 per cent of the total approved H-1B visas; although Indian nationals get 71 per cent of the H-1B visas. This is a testimony to the high skill levels of Indian-origin professionals," noted Nasscom.

(with PTI inputs)