America is great because of its willingness to accept talented immigrants.
That’s what Nandan Nilekani, the billionaire co-founder of Infosys Technologies, would tell President Trump if he had the opportunity.
“If you really want to keep the U.S. … globally competitive, you should be open to overseas talent,” Nilekani said on the sidelines of CNN’s Asia Business Forum in Bangalore.
Infosys ( is India’s second-largest outsourcing firm, and a major recipient of U.S. H-1B visas. The documents allow the tech firm to employ a huge number of Indians in U.S. jobs. )
The Trump administration is now considering significant changes to the visa program. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in January that Trump will continue to talk about reforming the H-1B program, among others, as part of a larger push for immigration reform.
Curbs on the visas could hit Indian workers hardest.
India is the top source of high-skilled labor for the U.S. tech industry. According to U.S. government data, 70% of the hugely popular H-1B visas go to Indians.
Shares in several Indian tech companies — including Infosys — plunged spectacularly two weeks ago amid reports of an impending work visa crackdown.
Nilekani said it would be a mistake for the administration to follow through.
“Indian companies have done a great deal to help U.S. companies become more competitive, and I think that should continue,” Nilekani said. “If you look at the Silicon Valley … most of the companies have an immigrant founder.”
India’s contribution to the industry — especially at top levels — has been outsized. The current CEOs of Google ( and )Microsoft (Tech30), for example, were both born in India. ,
But Nilekani, who is also the architect of India’s ambitious biometric ID program, suggested that India would ultimately benefit from any new…