Naren Gupta of Silicon Valley based Nexus Venture Partners, possibly the biggest early stage investor in India, spoke to me about President Trump’s latest Executive Order “Buy American, Hire American” that calls for a review of the H-1B visa program. Following are excerpts from the conversation:
Reviewing the H1-B program is a good idea. Like any program that has been going on for some time, things change and the program can be made better.
The intentions we are not sure of, and it’s hard to judge those. We have to assume that it’s being done in the interest of the United States first and foremost; But also in the interest of other countries who are our great partners. I think that is the intent.
Hiring the highest qualified people is a good idea (under H-1B). Right now there are so many applications that the higher level people are getting left out.
Ideally, we should increase the number (of H-1B visas) but target only the highest skilled.
Anybody from a U.S. higher education institution should potentially be given precedence over others. Some of them are being denied while a low level person gets the visa. Our companies are hurt because it (the current system of H-1B) prevents highest qualified people to be allowed in.
This is because of the lottery system. We should get away from the lottery system for every kind of immigration.
There is no shortage of low-level programmers. If ever there is a shortage of lower level skills, that work can be sent to India.
Our companies in India will greatly benefit from a change (in the H-1B visa- change that favors high-skilled people). Our companies in the U.S. need the highest level people here, and our companies in India need the highest level people in the U.S. for a year or two, and the H-1B would be appropriate for them.
I would request President Trump to raise the number of H-1B visas, but restrict them to the highest qualified levels.
It will not be good for outsourcing companies like Infosys or TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) etc., in the short term. But in the longer term, it will work out because they will do those (lower level) jobs in India.