On the heels of the US Immigration Bill shock come more worries for tech companies, this time from the UK.
Britain’s plans to mandate that any visitor — regardless of whether the person holds a work, student or tourist permit — should deposit £3,000 (which will be refundable) has raised concerns among software services companies.
The British government feels that with this move, it will be able to curb illegal immigration into the country.
Against free trade
However, industry watchers feel that levying this fee goes against the grain of free trade. This sentiment is prevalent among IT companies, already anxious over the impending passage of the US Immigration Bill.
When contacted, Rooma Kumar Bussi, Country Director of trade body Scottish Development International, said the policy is still under review and is yet to impact investment in the region.
In a statement, industry body Ficci said the UK’s proposed move could ‘certainly impact’ India Inc’s investment plans for the UK.
Software exporters, both large and mid-size, have a presence in Britain and some of them have indicated to Business Line that if the government introduced these schemes, it could impact their hiring.
Historically, “we never looked at movement of talent as a vehicle to deliver business,” Anant Gupta, President and CEO, HCL Technologies, told Business Line .
Emails to Infosys, Wipro, Polaris and others on the number of workers in the UK remained unanswered.
Large IT exporters do not give a break-up of the number of employees based in the UK, though they do have a presence in London, Scotland and other places, according to their annual reports.
Others feel that the impact of the UK move will depend on a company’s business model. According to Ganesh Natarajan, Vice-Chairman and CEO, Zensar Technologies, companies whose entire business revolves around onsite placement of technology workers will feel the pinch. He added that at any point in time, Zensar has 10 people on temporary visa.
Industry watchers say this ‘filter’ can be a double-edged sword and could hit mid-size companies harder than their larger peers.
“It will restrict small IT companies from sending employees to the UK, said Sunil Goel, MD GlobalHunt, a recruitment company.
Others are putting on a brave face for now and feel this move will not impact them.
“It will not be a significant cost for us,” says Arvind Thakur, CEO, NIIT Technologies. The company has an office in London with 300 employees.
B. Ashok Reddy, President (Global Human Resources and Corporate Affairs) of Infotech Enterprises, echoed similar sentiments.
(With inputs from Ronendra Singh, T.E. Raja Simhan, K.V. Kurmanath, Adith Charlie and Abhishek Law)