Visas granted to Indian IT professionals to work in Singapore have dropped “to a trickle”, with Indian companies being asked to hire local talent, National Association of Software and Services Companies President R Chandrashekhar told The Times of India. “This [visa problem] has been lingering for a while, but since early 2016, visas are down to a trickle,” he said.
Tech giants HCL, Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant, Wipro and L&T Infotech are all considering moving their operations to other countries in Southeast Asia, according to the report. Another industry official told TOI that Singapore had “stopped” granting visas to Indian workers “for all practical purposes”.
As a result, the Centre has decided to suspend its review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore. Unless the visa concerns are addressed, the government has decided not to expand the scope of goods from Singapore that will attract lower import duties.
Officials told The Times of India that authorities in Singapore were using an “economic needs test” to deny work permits to Indians. The ENT mandates compliance with specific economic criteria. “They are doing this despite the CECA clearly stating that there will be no ENT or quotas on agreed services. This is a violation of the agreement,” an official told the newspaper.
News of Singapore’s restrictions comes amid concerns in the IT sector over proposed changes to the United States’ H-1B and L1 work visas. The Donald Trump administration has decided to tighten screening of visa applications and maintained that the US needed stronger borders and “extreme vetting”.