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I Am A US Local Hire, Says Infosys Chief Vishal Sikka On H-1B Concerns

I Am A US Local Hire, Says Infosys Chief Vishal Sikka On H-1B Concerns

US President-elect Donald Trump’s business skills will outweigh any downsides for Indian IT firms operating in the US, Infosys chief Vishal Sikka wagered today, amid worries about the new administration’s plans for more restrictions on H1B visas.  Mr Sikka, 49, was talking to NDTV after his company announced its 3rd quarter results, bringing cheer by beating the Street’s estimates. But a tighter visa regime in the US dominated talk at the Bengaluru-based outsourcer’s event after a bill backing key changes in the H-1B programme, which allows skilled workers from countries like India to fill high tech jobs in the US, was reintroduced in the US Congress last week. Yes, said the Infosys chief, Indian IT companies like his would be impacted by a new visa regime “depending on the nature of policy when enacted,” but said he was not overly worried as he expects the new Trump administration to be “friendly” towards business and entrepreneurship. “I feel that Donald Trump’s will be a business-friendly administration. If you see Mr Trump’s own career and life, he has been an innovator, entrepreneur and businessman. So I expect his administration will be run on those priorities. At Infosys too, we have an innovation-friendly environment. Overall, I expect that if you can continue delivering value and focus on innovation things will be OK. So far there has been no discernible pattern in client behaviour,” Mr Sikka said. In any case, he said, “regardless of the visa policy, the right thing to do for innovation is to have a lot of rich local talent. That is something we always believed in.” He was an example, he said. “I am myself a senior local hire – a US citizen!” Vishal Sikka pointed out, adding, “There will be need for significantly higher embrace of local talent. This is something that I have been focusing on since I started…we are absolutely committed to creating US jobs, similarly in Australia, in Europe and other geographies where we operate in.” Singapore, Mr Sikka said, has recently enacted a 50-50 law and Infosys is in compliance with that. “Having a healthy mix of local and global talent is a very good thing and in any case we are very committed to the US economy and US jobs and we have 19,000 people working there,” he said. The US bill, among other things, proposes to increase the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $100,000 per annum (from around $60,000 currently). This is likely to impact the margins of Indian outsourcers, say analysts. Mr Sikka said Infosys is “working on a next generation visa-free global delivery model where we bring collaborative technologies to bear and creating a rich experience for people to work together.” Infosys, India’s second biggest software services company, has today posted a better-than-expected net profit of Rs 3,708 crore for the December quarter but it narrowed its full-year revenue guidance. Infosys also hit the $10 billion revenue mark for the calendar year 2016 (January to December), which Mr Sikka described as a huge “emotional” milestone.

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