Indian IT 'sleepless' over US immigration bill

Indian IT 'sleepless' over US immigration bill

Summary: Nasscom president Som Mittal says U.S. immigration bill remains a concern among Indian tech companies and efforts should continue to urge the U.S. government to rethink its foreign worker policy.


India's IT industry remains concerned over the U.S. immigration bill and needs to keep up efforts to urge the U.S. government to rethink its foreign worker policy. 

Nasscom president Som Mittal said in a PTI report the Indian government as well as local businesses had been in talks with their U.S. counterparts at all possible forums to relay their sentiments about the U.S. Border Security Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act 2013. The bill was passed by the U.S. Senate but has yet to be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Noting that India was "well-positioned" in the immigration bill, Mittal said: "I think it has some very good provisions like increasing visas...but this is something I will not sleep with. We still need to work and keep a watch on it.

He added that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had highlighted the issue his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama. "This issue has also been taken up with the U.S. Secretary of State and Vice President Joe Biden, and has been discussed at various congressional levels. Businesses in the U.S. are separating us... I would still lose sleep [over the issue]," Mittal said. 

The Nasscom chief last year expressed "huge concerns" about the U.S. bill, which he described as discriminatory against Indian companies and created an uneven playing field. The bill, among other measures, limits the number of temporary, foreign worker visas that a company can hold. 

Mittal had argued it would impact the U.S. clients of Indian IT companies, and noted that Indians working in the U.S. contributed over US$15 billion in taxes and social security in the last five years.

India's commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma also argued that the bill was "illegal" and violated World Trade Organization provisions, referring specifically to measures related to minimum salary threshold. 

Nasscom last year hired influential lobbyist, public relation and law firms to argue the case for Indian IT companies with U.S. congress representatives. Indian outsourcing giants including TCS, Infosys, and Wipro depend on foreign visas to send their employees overseas to support customers in the U.S., their biggest market, which contributes 65 percent of these companies' overall revenue, according to Times of India

The immigration bill requires companies to lower their visa-dependent workforce, potentially compelling Indian organizations to hire local talent in the U.S., which in turn could increase their overall costs and lower their margins.

On its part, the U.S. government in July accused India of protectionism and told its Indian counterpart to ease its protectionist technology purchasing policies before raising any complaints about America's new immigration bill.

In October, Infosys agreed to pay US$34 million in a settlement deal with U.S. authorities, following allegations of "systemic visa fraud and abuse" where it was alleged to have sent Indian workers to the U.S. using temporary visas, instead of the more expensive work permits. The Indian outsourcing company had disputed the charges, despite the settlement. 

Topics: IT Employment, Government US, Outsourcing, India


Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Hmm.

    US corporations import overseas workers partially to drive down domestic labor costs. They would be happy if American IT workers earned the same as Indian workers earn in India. The counter argument "we don't have enough skilled domestic workers" is only half true at best. The American government has under-funded public education in the USA since the '80s - to the point many US high school graduates are functionally illiterate and innumerate. Few corporations provide more than cursory training for new hires.
  • The Brain drain ? No it's not the Sixties.

    As a foreign worker who has been through the American system, and as a top troubleshooter to go to Companies / Corporations that are in difficulties and give the complete fix, here is my experience and observations from case files of being on-the-spot. Since signed Secrets Act, unable to name any of these.
    Agree that American Govt. and Companies collude to import labour and then take advantages in less salary, less benefits and always hold the the fast exit policy as a weapon because not a U.S. Citizen (Green Card does't mean much, ask I.C.E)
    A significant number of Indian imports had degrees from India, which should be vetted for having the real skills that a University of U.K. or U.S.A produces. Basically an A' level passed off as a Degree.
    A significant number of Indian imports took positions that were way beyond their capabilities and many of those in ''Oracle supporting databases'' were out of their depth, to the point that Oracle support refused to take calls.
    A noticeable number of Companies with high influx of Indian workers had ''caste'' issues, emanating from Senior Indian positions. Encountered many cultures of 'fear' factoring and hypnotic-chicken decision making.
    A noticeable number of faults / breaks / failures were direct results of points above.
    A significant culture of no one is to blame, meaning accountability or responsibility how ever this is pitched, washed into meaningless drivel down to a Boardroom report, of communications could be improved. This was themed across Defense, Commerce, Banking, Retail and manufacturing.
    In the big numbers of people from India, I met some very talented persons, both male and female, but the ratio of smarts to almost acceptable standard was way off kilter.
    Basically, in retro aspect once finished fire-fighting, the issues remained and continue to drag on.
    In a counter, Mexican foreign professional imports, were very hard working, on the ball and could be relied upon without micro-management to do what's needed.
    The Silicon valley in Guadalajara was built to allow American Companies to farm out work to same skilled managers / technicians / scientists to do work in Mexico, at half the salary of American counterparts, but the cost of living being so different meant that the standard for these persons was very high.
    Any Asians (meaning Japanese / Chinese / Korean) were of excellent high calibre.
    India is so busy pushing population out to Countries, not for skilled workings so much, but to create Indian settlements, and form Indian 'influences' by weight of numbers. No wonder the Indian Govt. is upset at the Immigration changes.
    I'm all for open borders for people that have skills and experiences to offer, but dead set against the mediocre being passed off as something special.
    My latest experience with Indian labour was in U.K. for a well known Mobile telecommunications company, that formed a separate Company significantly staffed by Indians on visas, had a nasty policy of not accepting nationals and would make all sorts of pathetic excuses not to hire. When met with their ''specialists'' to fix an operating system matter, three came along to advise that the issue raised just couldn't be true. That's three heads Vs one - disgusting.
    The real matter here is one of TRUST. There are smart and very intelligent foreign workers, but how do you sift these gems out of the masses that are being thrown up ??
    This should be the discussion point.
    Edward M Rose
  • Outsourcing is something we cant avoid

    Companies have to outsource in order to stay competitive. Every company I know outsources one way or the other. We should just accept the fact and live with it.


    • Vovan2000

      Clearly you are way, way, way overpaid. It's time for more layoffs.
    • Go Home Visa

      what ever you say Raja, how's your H1B working out for you?
  • Errrr

    So let me get this straight: India is complaining because [Indian owned] companies in the US won't be allowed to bring in as many cheaper Indian labor instead of hiring [probably more expensive] Americans?
  • Go Home Visa

    that's a laugh, the international job robbing syndicate originating from india, known as NASSCOM, is upset that their future pilfering from the U.S. is now being threatened. The entire indian IT business model is built on exploiting TEMPORARY work visa programs within the U.S. - they don't create anything, there are no software products coming out of india that find wide commercial use, or even significant commercial use. The biggest thing that india produces, is unemployment and industry destruction, in each and every country that they visit their blight upon. Thank God, that people have finally woken up and realized, that "India, Inc" is now, and was always, a big giant economy-destroying con-job