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Trouble for Infosys, TCS, Wipro as US holds back L-1 visas

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Bangalore, Jan 3: United States is making it difficult for some top Indian IT companies like Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services to send employees to America, their biggest market. For the first time in many years, the number of short-term US visas given to Indian professionals has declined, reports The Economics Times.

The report further claims that L-1 visa approvals for Indian IT companies were 28% lower at 25,898 in 2011 whereas such visa approvals increased by 15% for applicants from the rest of the world. The decreasing rate of approvals for visas has raised a policy question as to whether this great disparity is the result of a conscious policy at US posts in India. [Read:Major events, top news of 2011]

Meanwhile, the issue has been taken as a policy of discrimination against Indians by the software industries across the country, but they are wary of voicing their opinion publicly over fear of antagonising the American government.

According to Soma Mittal, President of software industry lobby Nasscom, American companies such as IBM and Accenture have also been affected due to rejection of short term visas to Indian employees.

Reports also claim that India's $70-billion IT services sector is facing increased scrutiny from US immigration officials, especially after an American employee of Infosys accused the company of abusing short-term work permits issued under B1 visa category to do software code writing. About 25,000-35,000 Indians travel to the US every year to work on assignments for software companies. Up to 40% of work permits are usually under the L1 category meant for professionals with specialised skills such as project management.

Meanwhile, Indian IT companies have been facing an uncertain economic environment. Following the US visa rejection issue, top Indian IT companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro are now being forced to adopt technologies such as telepresence to contend with the lack of experts at the customer's site.

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