» Business » Proposal to restrict biz visas will impact Indo-US ties: USIBC

Proposal to restrict biz visas will impact Indo-US ties: USIBC

By Lalit K Jha
April 15, 2013 11:17 IST
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VisaIndustry body US India Business Council has expressed concerns over proposals such as imposing restrictions on US business and work visas being considered by a group of Senators, saying the provisions would hit Indian companies and thwart the India-American trade relationship.

In a letter to the bipartisan group of eight Senators -- called Gang of Eight -- who are working on the negotiations for a comprehensive immigration reform, the council has opposed several provisions of the proposed bill, which it believes, if implemented, would end up targeting Indian companies.

"Our greatest concern centers on proposals that would preclude access to visas or impose unworkable visa-related restrictions and fees on a company's ability to sponsor H-1B and L-1 visas based upon their business model or the composition of its local workforce," USIBC President Ron Somers wrote in the letter to the eight American Senators.

The eight Senators are: Michael Bennet, Richard Durbin, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John McCaain, Robert Menendez, Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer.

Rubio said on Sunday the draft of the comprehensive immigration reform would be made public as early as this week.

"We specifically ask you not to include any provisions that would discriminate against a subset of companies based upon a '50:50' model (those applicants who have 50 or more workers and 50 per cent of those workers are on H-1B and L visas) or some other triggering ratio," Somers said in his letter dated March 22.

USIBC, which is the top US body representing American companies doing business in India and a key player in strengthening India-US relationship, argued that Indian firms have been partners in this growth cycle, helping US companies to become agile and more competitive in a fiercely competitive global marketplace.

"Targeting Indian firms operating in the United States with restrictions or fees is antithetical to the spirit of the US-India Strategic Partnership, and could excite protectionist forces in India that would attempt to thwart US-India trade and economic cooperation --

just as both countries are attempting to achieve just the opposite," Somers said.

Expressing its strong opposition to the so called ‘50:50 Model’, USIBC said distinguishing between companies based upon current staff ratios fails to give any credit for local investments and future hiring plans.

"Instead, it rewards firms that have a legacy workforce in the United States while disadvantaging recent entrants who are rapidly growing the local workforces while providing invaluable services to US public and private sector enterprises," said the three page letter.

USIBC said particularly targeted by the proposed restrictions would be global IT services companies headquartered in India, which are in fact enabling American companies to remain globally competitive.

"An outright prohibition on sponsoring visas and/or stringent new restrictions coupled with higher visa fees that may only apply to the Indian IT services sector would create an uneven playing field and harm US-based clients.

Such restrictions could unleash the unintended consequence of delaying US innovation, reducing local job creation, and, worse, forcing companies to move projects offshore, outside the United States," USIBC said.

Additionally, US companies from virtually every sector of the economy would be adversely affected by this proposed discriminatory restriction, the letter asserted.

"The services and expertise that US companies receive from global services firms actually spurs innovation, enhances competitiveness, and creates jobs in the United States," USIBC said.

At the same time, USIBC appreciated and strongly applaud the effort to modernise the green card system, enable US-trained STEM graduates to stay in the country, eliminate existing per-country limitations on green cards and other critical reforms.

The US industry, research institutions, higher education and others desperately need access to highly skilled individuals, many of whom are actually trained at US colleges and universities, USIBC said.

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