Home >industry >infotech >Nasscom hires lobbyist, PR and law firms on US immigration Bill

New Delhi: Industry body Nasscom has hired a lobbyist, and public relation (PR) and law firms to plead the case of Indian information technology services firms before American Congressmen with regard to the US immigration Bill that is expected to impact India’s $87 billion software exports industry.

The US senate last month approved the immigration Bill that changes rules governing H-1B and L-1 employment visas intended for highly skilled workers.

Nasscom is confident the Bill may not be adopted in the current format, as it will now be sent to the US house of representatives, which is working on a similar Bill, without the negative provisions.

“We (now) have two lobbyists. We have a PR firm and we have a legal firm," Nasscom president Som Mittal said. While one of the lobbyists is BGR, the “other is a person who is a specialist in immigration area and he runs his own... But he doesn’t do lobbying on the Hill... So we do not call him a lobbyist", he said.

Mittal refused to disclose either the identity of the lobbyist or the PR and law firms Nasscom has hired to help Indian IT industry understand the US immigration Bill and approach the people concerned in the US.

“We also work with industry body USIBC (US-India Business Council), which is lobbying there. They have taken up lobbying firm Patton Boggs to lobby. Patten Boggs is also helping us. There are a lot of people like that helping us," he said.

Indian software service firms such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd rely on immigrant workers to service clients in the US, its biggest market. The US contributes 65% of the revenue of these firms.

Non-immigrant H-1B visa allows companies in the US to temporarily hire workers in specialist fields. Indian firms apply for the visas and often locate the recipients at a client’s company to support the software.

The Bill’s provisions detrimental to Indian IT companies include restriction on a company with more than 15% of its workforce on H-1Bs (job visas), from placing more H-1B workers on client premises. Also, from 2016, any company with more than half of its staff on such work permits will be unable to apply for more visas, effectively creating a cap on temporary immigrant staff.

The legislation passed by US senate allows more H-1Bs while also increasing their cost and bars some companies from placing holders of the visa with customers.

Mittal said he was “very hopeful" that US house of representatives will not pass the legislation as approved by the senate.

After Congressmen pass their version of immigration Bill, a final reconciliation conference between the two versions will take place, he said. PTI

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