NRI techies nervous about stay in Donald Trump’s America

Indian engineers are now a deeply worried lot as nationalist rhetoric turns shrill in Donald Trump’s America.

Riddled with insecurity about the status of their visas and unsure about continuation at American workplaces, scores of Indian techies are turning to social media platforms to express deep-seated angst.

Industry estimates place the total number of Indian engineers on H-1B visas in the US at 300,000-350,000. This includes employees of Indian tech companies such as InfosysBSE 0.59 %, Tata Consultancy Services and WiproBSE -1.55 %, as well as those employed by American multinationals like Accenture and IBM. American politicians, of all hues, have regularly taken umbrage at this model of outsourcing.

The Indian information technology services industry is now estimated to be worth $150 billion.

The lack of clarity on how exactly the Trump administration will tweak visa norms is fuelling apprehension among Indian techies. While some have put off key financial decisions, others say their job prospects have dimmed since the change of guard at the White House.

A foreign worker with an H-1B visa can stay in the US for a maximum of six years, with an initial validity of three years that can be extended by another three, according to legal advice site nolo.com.

The uncertainty extends to their spouses too. The fate of the Obama administration’s decision in 2014 to allow spouses of H1-B visa holders to apply for work permits in the country also hangs in the balance.

At present, the US has a cap of 65,000 visas for the general category and allows a further 20,000 people who have a US masters’ degree from an accredited institution to also apply. In a year, nearly 200,000 H-1B visa applications are approved, including visa renewals, extensions and other exempt categories.