“In America, anyone can become President. That’s the problem” – George Carlin
The United States elections for Presidency are coming up and with the primaries underway, we have a clear idea about the stance of the candidates towards various public issues. It seems though as if the three major contenders are – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. But as Indians, we might find ourselves wondering why should we care about who becomes the next US President?
India generally shares a good foreign relationship with the US. The picturesque male
bonding between current US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has only seen the relations strengthened.
The two major issues which will directly affect Indians due to a change in Presidency are immigration(H-1B) and education(J-1). Both these issues are visa-related issues. The H-1B visa which has a cap of 65,000 a year, are required by skilled foreign workers in that country. The J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange.
India’s $146 billion IT outsourcing industry has been a huge beneficiary of the H-1B visa program but over the past year there has been a growing discontent among the skilled workers of the US, who believe that it is a way for big companies to hire cheaper foreign workers. Ever since the Paris attacks, America has hardened its stance on immigration and consequently the presidential candidates too have expressed their concern. Hillary Clinton, who has been a long standing political representative of the US in India as former First Lady and Secretery of State, has previously worked for the increasing the cap of H-1B visas. However her stance still remains cloaked in a carefully worded manifesto. Bernie Sanders and Donald trump however have clearly posed their disagreement with the current immigration policy of the country.
If the caps of these programs are reduced it would mean several Indians, especially IT professionals and research students, will be denied a chance to further their careers in the US. It could mean that the next Sundar Pichai or Satya Nadella will be greeted with a rejected visa application. One might see the silver lining as it would help India in retaining all these skilled people for work in their own country. But as of now, Indians need to keep a close watch on the Presidential race.