Why Donald Trump is spooking Indian outsourcers with his flip-flops on immigration


More than his 20-minute visa interview, Kaladhar Reddy remembers a 90-minute visit to ‘The Visa Temple’, officially called the Chilkur Balaji Temple on the banks of the Osman Sagar in Hyderabad. On a Thursday evening in June 2015, Reddy, a 20-something systems analyst, was part of a throng of thousands jostling through the temple, seeking divine intervention for what would turn out to be a successful, if nervy, visit to the American consulate in Mumbai.

For Reddy (who requested his name be changed) and thousands of others targeting an onsite stint or, better yet, a relocation with a technology outsourcer, divine intervention is the last-gasp step to sealing the deal. Reddy now lives in San Francisco. But for many others, the challenges remain daunting. “The process of moving to the US was nerve-wracking,” says Reddy. “Even now, there’s always a concern, at the back of the mind, about how much time you have in the US and whether your visa will be renewed.”Still, not everyone is quaking with fear at potential changes to immigration norms — and resultant aftershocks to the visa system. While presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may be making shrill claims on immigration and job losses in the US, Indians working in the country aren’t overly concerned. “Trump is saying all this to get Americans’ attention,” says a 30-something engineer at TCS, who is based in the US.

She does not believe much will come of his stand against outsourcing. However, she thinks, the fear Trump is tapping into is not unfounded. “In India, too, there are concerns in many states about outsiders taking away the jobs of locals.” She can’t understand how Trump has come this far in the presidential race as no American she knows supports him.

Another Indian engineer who works with a tech giant in Silicon Valley believes that even if Trump wants to do something about outsourcing as president, it may not be easy. “I am told getting a bill on this passed through Congress is going to be hard. Also, if he becomes president, this may not be top priority for him.”

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