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H-1 visa rejections soaring, says TCS

Last updated on: July 19, 2011 12:02 IST

H-1 visa rejections soaring, says TCS

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Shivani Shinde in Mumbai


Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest information technology services company, says visa rejections have gone up significantly compared to a few years ago.

Other than increasing local hiring in the United States, it also plans to increase applications under the H-visa category in its bid to counter the rise in visa rejection.

"If you compare the visa rejections to the last two years, then it has gone up. I would say two years back, visa rejection would be in the sub-10 per cent level. But now, they are upwards of 20 per cent. Since the overall environment is uncertain, we have seen the rules being tightened. Moreover, while the guidelines have remained the same, it is the question of application of these guidelines that is leading to rejection," said Ajoy Mukherjee, head-global human resources, TCS.

According to a CLSA report, H-1B/L1 visa rejection rates have doubled to eight per cent for larger companies, and in case of smaller companies, the rejection rates are even higher.

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Image: TCS CEO N Chandrasekaran.
Photographs: Reuters
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TCS also intends to plan much in advance so that the right candidate is selected. "We cannot complain about the process. It depends on the Visa officer, they have to get convinced. Besides, it is the question of how well one articulates. This has also meant that we spend more time on internal process and due diligence for sending the right candidate," said Mukherjee.

So far, TCS has applied for 1,500 H visas. It plans to increase these numbers depending on the demand environment.

"One of the reasons to opt for increasing the numbers under the H-visa category is the time we get to plan our requirements. Because the rush for getting these visas has come down, these are available for a longer duration and, hence, we can apply in a better manner," he said. The quota of 65,000 for 2010-11 was completed only by January.

H visas are temporary workers' visa for speciality occupation. The US government has put a cap of 65,000 for H1-B visas. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has so far received 5,900 H-1B petitions for 2011-12.

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Photographs: Reuters
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H-1 visa rejections soaring, says TCS

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The application process starts from April 1 and firms which manage to get these visas can only send their employees to the US from October.

TCS will also visit 10 to 15 campuses in the US to hire freshers, a practice that it started in 2008.

"We are looking at a range of 250 fresh hires in the US. But they will join us only in 2011-12. Besides this, there would be lateral hiring in other geographies,  including the US," said Mukherjee.

The spurt in the demand environment and the continuous pressure on visa application has also made the firm to invest in temporary hiring.

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Photographs: Reuters
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H-1 visa rejections soaring, says TCS

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Though TCS does not provide a break-up in temp hiring or business associates, Mukherjee said the focus would be on keeping the total number to four per cent of the overall employee base.

"This also depends if we have sufficient numbers to hire. Also, sometime we need people with certain niche skills that are not available in the market," he said.

TCS will add 17,000 to 20,000 freshers in the second quarter. It will add maximum freshers in the next two quarters.

The company's headcount crossed the 200,000 mark this quarter at 202,190. It is targeting to hire 60,000 people this financial year.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Change in variable pay structure

TCS has changed the quarterly variable pay structure for its senior employees.

Starting from this quarter (July-September), it will also include the performance of the unit in the variable component of the salary.

The salary of an employee will have two parts -- fixed and variable. Earlier, the company used to factor in the performance of the company and the individual while deciding the quarterly variable payout.

Variable component makes up 30 per cent of an employee's total package.


Photographs: Reuters
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