While Indian techies struggled with layoffs, Infosys hired 2,500 Americans in 2017

Looking west.
Looking west.
Image: Reuters/Vivek Prakash
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The Donald Trump administration’s tough stance on work visas is flipping the dynamics of the Indian IT industry.

The sector, among India’s top employment generators until some years ago, has been laying off employees in bulk at home. Yet, in the US—its main market, where it has been battling to secure visas for its Indian tech workers—it is hiring more locals than ever before.

On March 06, Infosys, India’s second-largest IT services company, said it has hired over 2,500 US workers in the past year. It also announced the launch of an innovation hub in Indianapolis, where it will train, up-skill, and re-skill employees according to its business requirements. In May 2017, the company had said it would hire 10,000 American techies over two years.

These announcements come at a time when Infosys has slammed the brakes on hiring in India and has even laid off thousands—it “released” up to 9,000 employees between January 2016 and January 2017—owing to automation of low-skill jobs. The Bengaluru-based firm’s headcount shrunk for the first time ever by 1,811 people in the year ended March 2017.

Overall, the Indian IT industry laid off over 56,000 people in 2017, even more than during the 2008 financial crisis. Hiring for entry-level jobs more than halved in 2017, analysts estimate.

In contrast, they’ve been recruiting visa-independent professionals in the US fearing a change in visa norms. Since Trump came to power in January 2017, the US president has been tightening the noose on H-1B, a much sought-after long-term work visa category. Indian IT companies are the biggest beneficiaries (pdf) of this visa class. Hence, the panic in the industry.

And Infosys’s move is further proof that the industry is attempting to cope.