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No H-1B visas? No problem, we'll offshore says Tech Mahindra

Indian services firm says it will hire more Americans too, but MAGA plan isn't a setback

Indian tech services company Tech Mahindra last week revealed that US president Donald Trump's tightening of H-1B visas for skilled workers will be a minor irritant at worst, and perhaps an opportunity to send more jobs offshore.

Speaking during the company's FY17 results announcement, vice chairman Vineet Nayyar said "... Trump's America first agenda and focus on curbing the immigration especially around H-1B visa policies will hurt the IT sector, the non-proposed radical shift in policy related to visa quota and allotment thereby leading to a tough application procedure and higher cost of Indian IT company, looking to bring talent to the United States."

Which is just what Trump wants: he contends that H-1B visas let companies bring in workers from abroad and pay them less than American workers are willing to accept, effectively pricing locals out of the market. Trump hopes that making it harder to get H-1B visas will mean more local jobs.

Nayyar's remarks offered some hope that policy will work, as he said, "We all will have to realign our business models to the new realities and have already optimized our visa requirements and focus on local hiring."

Which sounds like Trump could be on the road to Making America Great Again, although Nayyar threw that into doubt with his next sentence: "Having said that, I would add that I do not see that as a major setback. There are adequate numbers of engineers available in these countries who can be hired and of course part of this work can be shifted offshore."

So tightening H-1Bs leads to more offshoring? That won't please Trump, who has repeatedly railed against companies that send American jobs offshore.

Nayyar also commented on Europe's economy and Brexit, concluding that, "These are unsettling times in the politics and economics of both Europe and US." But he remains upbeat, opining: "I still think that we are innovative enough to go through these relatively tiny problems and continue to grow further."

His optimism is backed up by the company's numbers: annual revenue hit US$4.35bn, up 7.8 per cent year-on-year. EDITBA of $625.3m and profits of $419.5m were down 3.7 per cent and 7.8 per cent respectively, year-on-year, but the company reckons its plans will see it continue to post pleasing results. ®

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