Indian IT giant TCS warns Donald Trump’s visa curbs will cost US

The company’s chief executive said the move has put massive stress on a huge swath of Indian engineers in the US

TCS chief executive Rajesh Gopinathan speaks during a press conference after the announcement of the financial results of the company in Mumbai in April. AFP
TCS chief executive Rajesh Gopinathan speaks during a press conference after the announcement of the financial results of the company in Mumbai in April. AFP

Asia’s largest IT services firm Tata Consultancy Services warned that a US freeze on thousands of employment visas will only raise costs for American corporations like Wall Street banks, auto manufacturers and drugmakers.

The company’s chief executive Rajesh Gopinathan said the move has put massive stress on a huge swath of Indian-born engineers that have lived in the US for years and helped support American clients, who will ultimately be the ones hurt most.

His remarks were among the strongest public rebukes from India’s $181 billion (Dh664.3bn) IT industry since the US President Donald Trump’s June decree to halt approvals for a range of visas until the end of the year - including those for intra-company transfers.

TCS and peers like Infosys have relied for years on the ability to send talent to work alongside their customers overseas, which include some of the largest electronics manufacturers and global retailers. Investors worry that the inability to do so will hurt their competitiveness in the largest international market.

“The ignorance around this ruling should be addressed,” Mr Gopinathan said on Friday.

“Playing with the status of people who have moved away from families and committed to spending five-six years in a foreign country without immigrant status to deliver value to customers, is a short-term gimmick.”

On Thursday, TCS reported profit below expectations after the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted operations of its clients from Wall Street banks to Silicon Valley tech giants.

The visa curbs had no material impact on TCS’s own business but will certainly upset its workers, Mr Gopinathan said. “The attitude towards us in a country where we contribute significantly is unexpected and unfortunate.”

Before the onset of the pandemic, TCS and the rest of India’s IT services industry faced pressure from structural industry changes. With the rise of artificial intelligence and automation, companies had to retrain thousands of workers and invest in new cloud- and software-based services to address clients’ evolving needs. Mr Trump’s visa ban last month has added a further layer of uncertainty.

“We invest in skills and make this talent available in a fungible manner for use by customers,” Mr Gopinathan said. This helps clients avoid “large fixed costs to have access to this kind of talent.”

The investment by TCS and its peers helps American firms tap a pool of talent that’s continuously adapting to new technology, he said.

TCS has seen a surge in demand for its services from clients enhancing their digital infrastructure and accelerating cloud migration to cope with Covid-19.

“Overall, the pandemic has hastened the move towards distributed infrastructure,” he said.

Published: July 11, 2020 08:00 AM

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