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Home / India News / How H-1B visa helped nurture a generation of execs from India

How H-1B visa helped nurture a generation of execs from India

Immigration rules then, as now, made it very difficult for foreigners to join Green Card spouses, without going through a long and uncertain process.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2020, 16:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
Sundar Pichai started out on H-1B and went on to head Google, the giant of most things internet.
Sundar Pichai started out on H-1B and went on to head Google, the giant of most things internet.(HT photo)

Sundar Pichai started out on H-1B and went on to head Google, the giant of most things internet.

Satya Nadella used the visa programme also, but for an entirely different reason. Not to further his career, but his personal life. He gave up his Green Card — yes, he did — and went on to a H-1B so that his wife could join in in the United States. Immigration rules then, as now, made it very difficult for foreigners to join Green Card spouses, without going through a long and uncertain process.

So Nadella gave up his permanent residency and switched to H-1B in 1994, a year after he got married and four years after the new visa programme was introduced for skilled workers in 1990.

“What I didn’t expect was the instant notoriety around campus,” Nadella wrote in his 2017 memoir “Hit Refresh, “‘’Hey, there goes the guy who gave up his Green card’.”

H-1B can do that too, help married couples unite.

But for most people like Pichai and Nooyi, H-1Bs have been a gateway to work, live and prosper in the United States.

Pichai came to the US on a student visa -- from IIT Kharagpur to Stanford University, California. He went on a H-1B visa when he started at McKinsey, and then went on to Google, which he has headed since 2015.

Former PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi, who was raised in Chennai and went to the Madras Christian College, went on H-1B visa when she joined the Boston Consulting Group in 1980, according to Business Insider. It was not immediately clear if she was on H-1 at the time, instead. H-1B would be born 10 years later by the Immigration Act of 1990 by splitting H-1 into two — H-1A for nurses and H-1B for “speciality occupation”.

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