India will raise its concerns over restrictions on the movement of foreign skilled workers for short-term duration work with Britain and Canada, as these curbs are affecting the Indian IT industry.
Canada, U.K., the U.S, Germany and Switzerland are the top five markets for Indian IT firms. The annual revenue of Indian IT firms from the U.K. and Canadian markets is about $18 billion and $3 billion respectively, according to industry body Nasscom’s estimates.
Separate bilateral talks are slated for November 7, with Canada and Britain, on various issues, and workers movement is one among them. Visiting Canadian minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, is slated to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, and representatives of Nasscom, the IT trade body.
The Commerce Ministry has also been briefed about the IT sector’s concerns. Mr. McCallum is likely to be joined by Laura Albanese, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Ontario and Lena Diab, minister of Immigration, Nova Scotia.
Discussions with the U.K. will be at the level of the India-U.K. CEO Forum and other official meetings on the sidelines of the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May. The Centre and Nasscom are expected to take up the issue of Canada’s plan to introduce a new short-duration work permit exemption for inter- and intra-company transferees and experts, among others, for work up to 30 days annually.
The IT industry feels this 30-day limit does not serve a purpose as it is “too short a time frame” for the sector.
On the U.K. government’s recently announced changes in visa policy towards curbing immigration, India is likely to take up its concerns on the higher minimum salary threshold for intra-company transfers.
Nasscom welcomed the Canadian government’s plans to bring down visa and work permit processing times to two weeks from 3-4 weeks as part of the ‘Global Skills Strategy’ to attract foreign talent.
However, it said the processing time in itself was not a major concern.
During November 7 discussions, Nasscom will seek clarity from Canadian government officials on when the new plan will come into effect and whether Canada will be able to incorporate their demands in the Skills Strategy.
Assessment exemption Under the ‘specialised knowledge’ category to avail exemption from Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in Canada, the employer will have to demonstrate that the employee (foreign worker) has the specialised skill and the requisite proprietary knowledge to carry out a certain task.
However, getting an LMIA exemption is difficult as about 20 per cent of applications are usually rejected.
Gagan Sabharwal, Director, Global Trade Development, Nasscom, said: “We feel a lot more needs to be done (by Canada) to realise the full potential by setting a clear and objective criteria around ‘specialised knowledge’ in the ‘LMIA exempt category’ that has seen the rejection rate rise since these guidelines were introduced a couple of years ago.”
He said the introduction of measures with clarity will help Canadian businesses and their customers plan with confidence to fill local skill shortages.