While the H1B visa program has benefited both India and the United States, its absence will lead both countries to lose supremacy over the global IT market, according to a new study by a US think tank, the Center for Global Development (CGD).
Restricting the work visa would not solve any problems but would instead force the industry to shift to countries like Canada, said Gaurav Khanna, fellow at the CGD and co-author of the study.
The combined revenue for the two countries as a result of the visa program reached US$17.3 billion in 2010, with IT solutions boosting productivity everywhere, from banks on Wall Street to auto plants in Detroit.
The visa program might have affected employment opportunities for US-born computer science graduates, but any job losses are far outweighed by its benefits; the expansion of the software development sector has led to the creation of numerous jobs in related sectors, the report noted.
The study said that US-born employees were collectively wealthier by about US$431 million in 2010 because of the H1B. It also implies that without the visa program India and the United States would not have been so strong in the global IT marketplace.
India also benefited from the visa program, as its export revenue grew and more educated young people were able to land jobs. Since H1Bs expire after three to six years, many of these workers returned to India, taking with them technological know-how and connections. Some of them launched their own technology startups back home.
Their return, coupled with the increased demand for IT services, allowed India to eventually surpass the US in software exports, the report noted.