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Indian tech firms get backing from US trade body

business Updated: May 24, 2013 23:14 IST
Yashwant Raj

A powerful US trade body on Thursday urged President Barack Obama to ensure current efforts at immigration reforms do not end up discriminating against Indian firms. In a letter to the president, the trade body US-India Business Council (USIBC) said, immigrations reforms must not “discriminate against our friends in India.”

“It would be wrong to impose conditions on the recruitment and deployment of... tech-savvy workers which current drafts of legislation foresee,” wrote USIBC chairman Ajay Banga.

The immigration bill prohibits companies staffed with more than 75% H-1B workers from more such hiring in 2014(the caps being 65% in 2015 and 50% in 2016) besides proposing higher fees for H-1B visas.

The immigration reforms bill, now before the senate, severely cramps Indian IT firms’ ability to hire skilled workers from home for their US operations inexpensively — an aspect that was questioned by Microsoft in a senate hearing last month.

India has called these measures protectionist and argued that temporary relocation of professionals for on-site servicing of clients is not an immigration issue.

The bill passed the senate judiciary committee recently, without any mitigation of its anti-India provisions and is now scheduled for a vote in the senate in June.

USIBC’s stand will pit it against some of the titans of US tech industry, which are said to be behind the bill’s provisions.