During the week, there was news on changes to the US H-1B visa and abolishment of the Australian 457 visa. Articles on social media read, ‘Indian techies no longer wanted or no options for Indian techies anymore…’ This has been creating fear and confusion among many. Unnecessarily.
As India’s largest immigration company, we’ve seen numerous immigration and visa changes since 1999. It all boils down to a few basic facts:
* Countries keep tweaking their immigration policies based on their labour market. Sometimes, there is an excess of a certain category of professionals and, at times, there is a dearth. Based on this, immigration policies change. However, this is never permanent, but is an ever-changing situation.
* Engineers, IT workers, Medical Professionals, Teachers are among those who are always in demand. This is simply because economies desperately require these professionals. They cannot be manufactured overnight, they can’t be trained overnight, they can’t get experience overnight and they are not available locally. The demand is simply too much to fill. So, employers have no choice, but to hire from overseas.
* Young people are choosing to get married at a late age, have fewer children or not get married at all. Old people are living longer due to better healthcare and advances in medicine. The West needs skilled workers to sustain their economies and they have no choice but to look overseas for this workforce, as it simply isn’t available in their countries.
* Politics play a huge part in immigration and policies are sometimes framed temporarily due to elections coming up in the near future or promises made during a recent election. However, the labour market needs always eventually supersede this because the economy cannot be held ransom to momentary politics.
* Countries export manpower, trained personnel and services to other countries that import their products. It is simple trade and if one country rocks the boat saying, ‘I won’t give your people work visas’, the other country reciprocates saying, ‘I won’t allow you to sell your products to my people’. India is a huge economy and a literal goldmine for any country wanting to sell their products. They just cannot afford to completely cut us off. So, trade talks begin and no one wants to lose out.
What is the situation right now?
Fact: On April 18th, an executive order for the H-1B visa was signed and the aim was to allow only the best or the highest paid techies into the country.
Reality: The H-1B visa programme is an important tool for attracting and retaining top tech talent which employers agree are not available locally. It is a common view that tightening the H-1B visa rules does not translate into more jobs for Americans. In fact, the new regulations will have a negative impact because a lack of skilled tech professionals for innovation, support and maintenance will mean the possibility of shifting jobs abroad where talent is easily available and at a lower cost. The US loses its competitive edge and the economy suffers as foreign workers do not contribute anymore. While the country must prevent visa abuse and look out for their own, it’s only a matter of time before they realize that skilled and experienced techies are not detrimental to their economy, but instead, give the US the edge it has today.
Fact: Australia has abolished the 457 visa and removed 200 occupations from its skilled occupation list.
The 457 visa is abolished but will be replaced with two other visas of a two and a four year duration.
Interestingly, of the 200 occupations removed from the eligible skilled occupation list, only two are actually IT occupations – ICT Support and Test Engineers and ICT Support Technicians.
Yes, other popular occupations from India like HR Advisors, Call and Contact Center Managers, Market Research Analysts, Public Relations Managers have been removed from the 457 occupation list. What about tech professionals? No. They are still very much eligible to apply under one category or the other. Refer below to the table.
Justin Trudeau and Canada Inc. seem to be having the last laugh in the midst of it all.
Canada’s Express Entry continues to be the most popular immigration scheme in the world. Canada intends to welcome over 320,000 new immigrants as per its Immigration plan for 2017. The economic immigration category targets 172,500 new immigrants, a 7.41% increase from 2016.
From January 2017 till date, 35,993 invitations have already been issued as compared to a total number of 33,782 in 2016.
The scores continue to drop and the last had an all-time low score of 415 for selection.
Canada provides great opportunities for techies as children’s education is free, spouses can also work and pay scales aren’t bad at all. Citizenship can be applied for after four years in Canada. Canada offers stability, a secure future ahead and, of course, who doesn’t love Justin Trudeau?
Techies are very much eligible to work in the UK.
Indians accounted for nearly 60% of Tier 2 skilled UK worker visas in the year ending September 2016. According to the quarterly Migration Statistics report, 53,575 of the 93,244 skilled worker visa applications that were approved went to Indians.
New changes to the Tier 2 work visa include the employer having to pay an annual Immigration Skills charge of £1,000 per employee per year, which actually means only about £84 per employee, per month. Not a big amount at all!
The minimum salary level that employers can offer a Tier 2 (General) worker has been increased from £25,000 to £30,000 for experienced workers. A £5,000 increase per annum over here.
Yes, it has become slightly more expensive for employers to bring in Tier 2 workers into the UK. Workers are required to have better English skills and a clean background.
However, as is apparent, the Tier 2 visa for skilled workers for the UK is not closed at all.
Europe offers Indian techies the option of the EU Blue Card, which allows them to work in the EU and eventually settle down there.
Germany alone has huge shortages especially in the areas of Mathematics, IT, Engineering, Natural Sciences & Healthcare and is looking to fill these shortages with foreign skilled workers.
According to a 2011 study conducted by the Nuremburg-based Institute for Employment Research, given the current shortage of skilled labour and the shrinking German population, the country’s labour force is expected to drop by almost 7 million by 2025. The study estimated that Germany would need to add about 400,000 skilled immigrants to its workforce every year to maintain its economic strength.
To qualify for a blue card, a techie needs to secure a job offer from an employer in the EU with a gross salary of €39,624 per year for shortage occupations and €50,800 per year for non-shortage occupations.
Germany also has a job-seeker visa which allows professionals to enter it and search for a job. This visa can later be converted to a long-term work visa or a PR.
A bustling economy and a beautiful country, South Africa is a unique country with cosmopolitan and vibrant cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stanton and Durban. If there is one country in the world that is a blend of Melbourne, California, and Tuscany, this is most definitely it!
South Africa is currently experiencing shortage of skilled workforce in certain skill sectors. In order to counter this skill shortage, the South African government has come up with a Critical Skills requirement list as per the skill shortage sectors and has opened the doors for skilled workers from other countries to come to South Africa and fill the skills gap. The South African Home Affairs department has launched the Critical Skills Work visa. Indian techies qualify for this visa.