Proposed U.S. Bill a threat to India's IT cos

by CXOtoday News Desk    Apr 16, 2013

Capitol Hill

A bipartisan group of eight senators will on Tuesday unveil a long-awaited landmark legislation to remove the threat of deportation for millions of illegal immigrants and give them an opportunity to eventually become U.S. citizens, reported Reuters. The news conference has since been cancelled owing to the twin blasts in Boston today.

Under the proposal, undocumented immigrants who came to America before December 31, 2011 and stayed continuously could apply for “provisional” legal status as soon as six months after the bill is signed by the president. But beyond that, they would have to wait a decade or more without receiving federal benefits, while the government meets a host of tough conditions for securing U.S. borders and enforcing current immigration law.

The proposal would expand access to both low- and high-skilled labour for American businesses, attempting to keep organized labour happy with provisions designed to keep companies from hiring cheap foreign labour or filling jobs with immigrants when Americans are available.

For the U.S. technology sector, it increases the number of visas available for educated workers filling specialized jobs, though it imposes new pay requirements designed to keep the hiring from depressing wages for U.S. technology workers, noted the report.

One immigration expert who had been briefed on details of the measure before the outline was provided to reporters called it “a very smart, strategic and forward-looking bill.”

For all the Bill’s emphasis on border control and visas, the “pathway to citizenship” remained at its heart, even though the phrase was not used in the outline made available to reporters, reported Reuters.

The The proposed Comprehensive Immigration Bill however, is not going down to well with the IT apex body in India, Nasscom as it could pose a serious threat to Indian IT companies. Nasscom, on Monday told reporters that the Bill could be “highly discriminatory and designed to debilitate Indian IT companies”.

Even though the outlines of the Bill are yet to be made,  Nasscom expects that the Bill will recommend that companies that have more than 15 percent of their local employees on H-1B visas be prohibited from placing such visa holders at client sites.

“Currently, at least 20 percent of Indian tech workers are based out of client locations to do testing, integration, support and critical maintenance,” Nasscom president Som Mittal said told reports on Monday.

Companies would also be required to pay their H-1Bs more than market wages. There will also be similar restrictions on L1 visas, said Nasscom.

“It’s a serious matter for India. Anything discriminatory will equally impact the trade relationship between India and the US. The US administration should remember that Indian workers have been significantly contributing to the growth of its economy. India has been helping the US towards building global competitiveness. So it’s clearly a trade issue and not an immigration issue,’’ said Mittal.

 Mittal assured that Nasscom was in touch with the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services), and industry bodies in the US. “The Indian government has already taken up the issue,” said Mittal.

The Bill was crafted by four Democratic senators: Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida.