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IT firms not hit by H1B visa curbs

Source: PTI
February 09, 2009 18:16 IST
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Indian IT companies can take a breather as the US Senate vote for imposing stringent conditions on the hiring of H-1B visa workers.

"From the reading of the provisions, it seems the impact is only on the people directly employed by the TARP companies. Outsourcing firms including those from India are seemingly not impacted," Nasscom president Som Mittal said.

The amendment Bill is yet to go through reconciliation in the House before it is enacted, he said. None of the top Indian IT companies commented on the possible impact of the decision on them.

He said a Nasscom delegation which will visit the US to meet customers, analysts, government officials is going to raise the issue to state how protectionism is not good for the global world.  Mittal said, G-20 has already endorsed that protectionism is detrimental.

Referring to the amendment, he added that it means the US companies that are receiving 'Troubled Asset Relief Program' (TARP) funds will be deemed to be H1B visa dependent. Of the total workforce if 15 per cent staff carry H1B visa then they can be said 'dependent'.

The provisions should not be impacting those who are not under direct employment of these TARP companies. Only those who are directly employed by them are impacted. It does not extend to any partner, associate and so on working with these companies, he said.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association said the move is a disturbing step backwards leading to an era of employment protectionism. For every H-1B position requested by an S&P 500 US technology company, overall employment at the firm increased by five workers, it said.

The association said instead of seeing the current economic calamity as a global problem and immigrants as part of the collective solution, the Senate unwisely chose to restrict the financial industry's access to top-flight global talent who can help create jobs for US workers.

In these difficult economic times, we cannot afford knee-jerk, fear driven policies that will stymie growth. Our nation's capacity to funnel the world's diverse talent pool into a highly productive economic engine is a central reason that we are the wealthiest nation in history", it said.

The amendment was co-sponsored by Republican Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, and independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. It is estimated that of the total 85,000 H-1B visas that were handed out last year, Indian companies cornered about 12,500 such visas.

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