Af­ter H-1B Visa Curbs, 2 More US Bills may Stymie In­dian IT

While ‘End Out­sourc­ing Act’ calls for ban on mov­ing out jobs by US states, the rein­tro­duced 2007 Bill also seeks re­vamp of H-1B visa pro­gramme

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Surabhi.Agar­wal @times­group.com

New Delhi: The In­dian IT in­dus­try has more than just the H-1B visa Bill to worry about. Two more leg­is­la­tions have been in­tro­duced in the United States Congress over the past two weeks that can hit the do­mes­tic tech sec­tor’s prospects.

While the H-1B visa Bill seeks to more than dou­ble the min­i­mum wage for an H-1B visa holder to $130,000, the ‘End Out­sourc­ing Act’ asks for a ban on out­sourc­ing by states. Another is a 2007 Bill that has been rein­tro­duced by Sen­a­tors Chuck Grass­ley and Dick Durbin — long-time pro­po­nents of work visa re­form. This Bill, too, seeks re­vamp of the H-1B visa pro­gramme. This comes even as buzz about US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sign­ing an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that re­forms the H-1B pro­gramme is still alive.

Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Grass­ley and As­sis­tant Demo­cratic Leader Durbin an­nounced on the for­mer’s web­site that they will in­tro­duce the leg­is­la­tion to “pri­ori­tise Amer­i­can work­ers and re­store fair­ness” in visa pro­grammes. “Congress cre­ated these pro­grammes to comp- le­ment Amer­ica’s high-skilled work­force, not re­place it,” Grass­ley said. He added that some com­pa­nies are try­ing to ex­ploit the pro­grammes by cut­ting Amer­i­can work­ers for cheaper labour.

The Bill, in­tro­duced on Jan­uary 20, aims to give pref­er­ence for tal­ented for­eign stu­dents ed­u­cated in the US for H-1B visas.

Mean­while, three Se­nate democrats — Joe Don­nelly along with Se­na­tor Sher­rod Brown and Se­na­tor Kirsten Gil­li­brand — on Jan­uary 30 in­tro­duced the ‘End Out­sourc­ing Act’. The leg­is­la­tion seeks that com­pa­nies that out­source jobs should not be sub­sidised by US tax­pay­ers

and also be dis­al­lowed to do busi­ness with the US gov­ern­ment. “We should en­cour­age busi­nesses to in­vest here and make sure tax-payer funded con­tracts are awarded to com­pa­nies that em­ploy Amer­i­can work­ers,” Brown said in a state­ment. “We need pro­grammes ded­i­cated to putting Amer­i­can work­ers first. When skilled for­eign work­ers are needed to meet the de­mands of our labour mar­ket, we must also en­sure that visa ap­pli­cants who honed their skills at Amer­i­can col­leges and univer­si­ties are a pri­or­ity over the im­por­ta­tion of more for­eign work­ers.” While last Mon­day when Demo­crat Zoe Lof­gren — who rep­re­sents a Con­gres­sional district in Cal­i­for­nia that in­cludes Sil­i­con Val­ley — in­tro­duced ‘The High-Skilled In­tegrity and Fair­ness Act of 2017’, which pro­poses a skill and wage-based sys­tem for al­lo­ca­tion of H-1B visas and dou­bling the H-1B wage to $130,000, stocks of ma­jor In­dian soft­ware ex­porters such as In­fosys, Wipro and Tata Con­sul­tancy Ser­vices nose­dived, with five IT stocks los­ing about ₹ 33,000 crore in mar­ket value.

Mean­while, the min­istry of ex­ter­nal af­fairs has down­played the im­pact.

As­sert­ing that no ex­ec­u­tive or­der has been passed by the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion for over­haul­ing of H-1B visas so far, a gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said the coun­try will not “pre­judge” the out­come of the three pri­vate Bills raised in this re­gard when they go through the full Con­gres­sional process.

“No ex­ec­u­tive or­der has been signed so far... Three pri­vate Bills have been in­tro­duced in the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. “Such Bills have been in­tro­duced in the past also and such Bills have to go through the full Con­gres­sional process,” MEA spokesper­son Vikas Swarup said.

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