US Bill may lose bite before final version

Our Bureau Bangalore | Updated on August 16, 2013 Published on August 16, 2013

Even after the US Congress reconvenes, voting on the Bill will take more time.

Nasscom has received assurances from key US policymakers that a Bill on immigration reform, now before the House of Representatives, will not contain discriminatory clauses.

“As this is a very significant bilateral trade issue, having far-reaching implications for the economies of both countries, Nasscom is intensely engaging with the policymakers and governments on both sides to ensure that all the concerns are well represented,” according to a statement by the industry body.

In order to fix its immigration system, the US Senate approved the reform measure in late June. If the Bill is passed, it will ensure that an H1-B application filed by an employer having 50 or more US workers, will not be accepted unless the company attests that less than 50 per cent of its workforce comprises H1B and L1 visa holders.

Graded approach

Indian IT companies were dismayed when the initial framework of immigration reform was unveiled a few months back as it contained what it termed ‘discriminatory measures’, including an increase in H1-B visa fees .

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan recently said that the House will take a step-by-step approach to get immigration right, not a big massive Bill but separate Bills, a move that seems to have gladdened Indian IT exporters.

“People who initially voted for the Bill were not aware of the restrictive clauses,” said Rajkamal Rao, MD of Rao Advisors and an expert on immigration issues.

More than 70 per cent of software exports revenue comes from the US, according to Nasscom data. The US Congress is in recess and will resume in the first week of September. Even after resuming, voting on the Bill will take more time.

According to Krishnakumar Natarajan, CEO, Mindtree and President of Nasscom, there needs to be reconciliation between the Senate and House versions and the new version needs to be voted on again.


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Published on August 16, 2013
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