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New US immigration principles vague on visas

world Updated: Feb 01, 2014 02:01 IST
HT Correspondent

Republicans in the US House of Representatives on Thursday released principles that will form the basis of their immigration reforms efforts, which India will be tracking closely.

The principles indicate a fundamental difference from a bill passed seven months ago by the senate -- in the path to citizenship for the 11 million illegals.

But the principles were not explicit on the portion that interests India and Indian IT firms operating in the US: limits on the number of H-1B visa workers these firms can hire.

The senate bill almost doubles the number of highly-skilled workers US firms can bring from abroad, including India, from the present 65,000 a year to 115,000, going up to 180,000.

But the bill placed severe limits on H-1B-dependent companies, mostly from India -- but without naming them -- such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS, to continue to depend on foreign workers.

The principle only said this about temporary workers: "It is imperative that these temporary workers are able to meet the economic needs of the country and do not displace or disadvantage American workers."

But this was said in the context of low-skilled farm workers. And Indian officials tracking the reforms process said they didn’t see any explicit reference in the principles to those issues of concern to India.

Indian IT firms would be happiest if the House Republicans stay with a bill moved earlier by one of their party colleagues on visa for temporary high-skilled workers.

It is currently moving up the legislative process in the House and it contains none of the senate bill’s provisions that have troubled Indian IT firms.