Tuesday, May 15, 2007

To visa or not to visa

If you are one who's employed in the IT/ITES industry, chances are you would've already seen this from one of your friends. Two US Republican senators have asked top Indian outsourcing firms to explain the rationale behind the number of visas that they have requested.
Contending that the H-1B visa programme is being abused to displace qualified American workers, two US lawmakers have asked nine foreign-based firms, including some leading Indian companies that used 20,000 of such visas, to disclose details about their workforce and their use of the special programme.

As the US Senate gets ready to take up the comprehensive immigration reform legislation, the two top law makers -- Republican Senator Charles Grassley and Democratic Senator Richard Durbin -- said "more and more it appears that companies are using H-1B visas to displace qualified, American workers."

"As we move closer to debate on an immigration bill, I continue to hear how people want to increase the number of H-1B visas that are available to companies. Considering the high amount of fraud and abuse in the visa programme, we need to take a good, hard look at the employers who are using H-1B visas and how they are using them," Grassley said in a statement.
I guess it's one of the issues that everyone had conveniently buried till now, but it just had to come out in the open. There are, obviously, two directions - one where the number of visas will further be reduced, or the other where the number will be increased. Senators would obviously ride the first option for attracting the vote bank - by selling the 'visas displace US jobs' story. But people who've really tasted the might of skilled workers would ride the second story.
The companies the senators sent letters to were Infosys Technologies, Wipro Ltd., Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Patni Computer Systems, I-Flex Solutions Inc., Satyam Computer Services Ltd., Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd., Tech Mahindra Americas Inc. and Mphasis Corp.
US technology companies have long lobbied for removal of visa restrictions - to keep US competitive.
Bill Gates said he has a hard time understanding the logic of those who decry the outsourcing of American jobs yet are reluctant to facilitate bringing the high-skill people who are catalysts for economic growth to this country. "People just shake their heads at what kind of a central planning system would say having 65,000 smart people come in, that's okay, but 70,000 smart people, no."
Let's see what's in store.

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