Facing visa issues, Indian outsourcers have strength in numbers

According to reports, Trump will put his signature on a draft prepared by his administration that will overhaul the current H-1B visa program.

"Our country's immigration policies should be designed and implemented to serve, first and foremost, the US national interest", the draft proposal reads, according to a copy reviewed by Bloomberg. "The Lofgren Bill contains provisions that may prove challenging for the Indian IT sector and will also leave loopholes that will nullify the objective of saving American jobs, " NASSCOM said.

The proposed legislation, tabled by Zoe Lofgren from California, seeks to more than double the minimum wages for employees who move to U.S. on H-1B visas to $130,000 (Rs 88 lakh) from $60,000.

Consulting companies such as Deloitte Consulting LLP, which has a significant presence in the Harrisburg area, top the list of H-1B applicants.

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The Zoe Lofgren Bill, introduced in the US House of Representatives, is a long way from becoming law but it does pose dangers to Indian IT companies which receive the largest share of the 65,000 H1B work visas issued by the US every year, NASSCOM said in an official statement.

In testimony before Congress previous year in support of H-1B reform, Howard University public policy professor Ronil Hira said the visa program allows companies to replace American workers with foreigners who earn much less, citing reported examples from companies including Southern California Edison, Disney and The Fossil Group.

In the Senate, Illinois Democrat Richard J. Durbin and Iowa Republican Charles E. Grassley are planning a bill that would end the computerized lottery system for H-1B visas - which Indian companies flood with applications - and require employers seeking the visas to demonstrate they attempted to hire Americans first. This likely means trying to ensure that H-1Bs largely go to America's best-known and highest paying tech companies, rather than, as is frequently the case today, serving to help companies that mostly do back-office outsourcing work. "It imposes a lot of ambiguous language on employers", she said.

The text of the order does not impose an immediate freeze on the number of H-1B visas issued this year, but Peddibhotla said the language suggests there will be a reduction in the number of visas issued in future years. It covers not just H-1B visas, but other categories including L-1, E-2, and B1. "You'll see both through executive action and through comprehensive measures a way to address immigration as a whole and the visa programme", he added.

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The Ministry of External Affairs said on Tuesday that India had been in touch with the US on the visa law, indicating that the outreach had evoked little impact.

"The proposed order will have a hugely detrimental effect on the USA economy".

"Similarly we believe that we contribute to America with very high skilled work force because we are reacting to a demand-supply".

For a while now Silicon Valley has insisted that it needs shedloads of H-1B workers because there are not enough skilled United States workers to do the job. Those affected are people with H-1B visas who came to India for personal visits and needed to get their passports stamped in order to re-enter the US.

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Another Bangalore-based outsourcer, Wipro, has set up new delivery centers in Mountain View, Calif., and Dallas, and plans to further expand existing centers in Atlanta, Tampa, Fla., and Indianapolis, Ind., a company spokesman said.