New Delhi, June 28: The immigration bill, which has been passed by the US Senate, as expected will impact on the Indian IT companies, but the industry bigwigs have been getting ready for the shock. However, the main concern would be whether India is ready?
Even after constant lobbying by business and industry groups, the Senate Bill retains several killer provisions, particularly those related to the H-1B visas.
The Bill specifies that not more than 75 percent of workforce can be on H-1B visas, effective 2014. In 2015 this goes down to 65 percent and becomes 50 percent of workforce in 2016.
Another hurdle is that any company with more than 15 percent of its workforce on H-1B visas would be barred from placing its workers at client sites.
To overcome such a situation, Indian IT companies in US have increased local hiring and establishing local development centres.
A report by Nasscom has said that around 2,00,000 jobs for locals were supported by Indian IT companies in the US with investments of over $5 billion through 128 acquisitions.
Indian brain drain
The private firms can overcome provisions of H-1B visa restrictions but is India prepared to look at the fineprint of the Bill and alter its policies?
The Immigration Bill is bound to affect the flow of Indian talent. The Bill overtly encourages fast-track permanent residency, in terms of Green Card for foreign students (studying in highly skilled Science, Technology, Engineering and Math courses), and keep them in the US.
Over a lakh Indian students are studying in the US and even if half of them chose to stay back, India will be deprived of the services and skills of these individuals.
Considering Indian education scene and prospects of growth in industry, the cream would surely not like to be in India.
All is not lost
Meanwhile, there is still hope on the horizon as the House of Representatives is owrking its own version of Immigration Bill. It does not have the strigent provisions of Senate Bill on H-1B visa.
The House Bill has been supported by industry bodies like the US Chamber of Commerce, NASSCOM, TechAmerica and US-India Business Council (USIBC).
The USIBC has established the Coalition for Jobs & Growth and one of its aim is to promote the House Bill known as H R 2131, the SKILLS Visa Act.
"The (Senate) Bill unfairly targets American companies trying to remain globally competitive by reducing their ability to contract with global IT service providers and restricting their access to the international expertise they need," says USIBC president Ron Somers.
"The USIBC Coalition prefers H R 2131, the SKILLS Visa Act, that was passed out of committee in the House today, which does not follow the problematic approach of the Senate Bill, which will hamper American companies' competitiveness," said Somers.
USIBC, formed in 1975 at the request of the United States and Indian governments, is the largest bilateral business association in the United States. Today, USIBC is comprised of nearly 400 of America's top companies investing in India, joined by global Indian companies investing in the United States.
US-India two-way trade has recently crossed $100 billion in goods and services, supporting hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Indian companies have cumulatively invested more than $11 billion in the United States over the past decade.