New Delhi, Apr 3: Singapore has joined the ranks of United States and has advised Indian companies to hire more local talent instead of getting Indians to work. As a result of this, the requests for visas for Indian IT professionals to the island city-state has come down to a few. The slashing of visas for IT professionals in Singapore has reportedly been in force since the beginning of 2016.

The Indian government has however put on hold the review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) citing a violation of the trade pact. This move by Singapore has probably gained momentum after United States President Donald Trump clamped down on immigrants and enforcing stricter visa regime.

Like the United States of America, even Singapore is advising Indian companies to hire local talent. Following the advice on fair consideration, some firms have begun relocating some of their operations to other countries in the region. In the past, Indian companies that started relocated some of their operations in Singapore were HCL and TCS. Looking at the favourable conditions, other companies like Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant and L&T Infotech too joined the league. Singapore has somehow emerged as a key opponent of allowing foreign professionals into the island nation in recent years.

To ensure that Indians living are not at loss due to the new H1B visa policy, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj assured Indians that the Government is in talks with the United States administration. Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 20 had said in Lok Sabha that India is articulating its concerns regarding the visa policy vigorously with the new administration in the US.  NASSCOM has projected the IT-BPM industry to grow at a rate of 8.6 percent in FY2017-2018 in spite of disruptions in technology, fluctuations in global trade and geopolitical uncertainties and will become a USD 155 billion business.

The H1B1 visa is a non-immigrant visa and is a special visa for citizens of Singapore only. It allows firms to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Meanwhile, the H-1B1 is a special visa for citizens of Singapore only. It is similar to a regular H-1B in that it is available for professionals. The key advantage of H-1B1 visa is that it allows Singaporean citizens to avoid the H-1B quota which often runs out quickly.

To add more barriers on visa issuances, the Singaporean visa authorities are reported to be demanding compliance with certain economic pre-requisites via a test called the economic needs test (ENT). The Singapore government is doing it despite the CECA clearly stating that there will be no ENT or quotas on agreed services, an Indian officer was quoted by TOI. The official termed this as a violation of the agreement. IT professionals have faced barriers for a long time now as foreign countries insist on fulfilling of various conditions. The countries, however, ensure that a local professional is given the first chance if he or she possesses the similar talent. The Indian government has now planned against expanding the scope of goods where import duties would be cut.