NASSCOM Prepares to Effect A Rethink in the US Immigration Bill

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A few days ago news of the immigration reform bill being passed by the US Senate made headlines across the world. The Indian outsourcing industry was not keen on the bill because of the restrictions that it placed on the 87 billion dollar software export model. The restrictions were to be placed on the H-1 and L-1 visas issued to high skill workers. The industry body, Nasscom is rolling up its sleeves to plead the case and turn the bill in favor of the Indian software export industry.

Although the bill has been passed by the House of Senate, Nasscom is banking on the House of Representatives. They are rumored to be working on a different bill without the negative connotations for the outsourcing industry.

Nasscom president Som Mittal was quoted as saying, “We (now) have two lobbyists. We have a PR firm and we have a legal firm.” One of the lobbyists has been confirmed as BGR, the public affairs firm. The other lobbyist is rumored to be a specialist in the immigration field. Their identities were not publicly acknowledged.

Mittal was believed to have said that the lobbyists were necessary, as understanding the bill and changing the few miniscule details was crucial to the industry not getting adversely affected.

Bigwigs like Tata Consultancy and Infosys rely largely on their Indian origin workforce to service their target market, i.e. US clients. A large percentage, nearly 65% of the companies’ profits come from the US market. The bill effectively reduces or throttles the number of foreign visas that a company can sponsor. Also the bill enforces restrictions on the use of the work visas to send employees to other companies for software support.

The bill as passed by the US House of Representatives will be pitted against the version passed by the US Senate. A reconciliation will be sought between the versions leading to a final law.

Som Mittal furthered the lobbying process when he said, “We also work with industry body USIBC, which is lobbying there. They have taken up lobbying firm Patton Boggs to lobby. Patton Boggs is also helping us. There are a lot of people like that helping us.”

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