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Jan 20, 2020, 05.49 AM IST

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Nasscom questions legality of US immigration agency’s visa fee hike plan

The fee hike by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is for the short-term work permits used by IT companies to send highly-skilled workers to the US, and Nasscom has opposed it in a submission to the immigration agency’s parent, Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

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  • While addressing the media in Washington DC on December 20, the External Affairs Minister (EAM) of India, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said, “Amo...

    Nasscom’s lobbying spends have risen significantly since 2015. It fluctuated between $40,000 and $150,000 between 2010 and 2014. But the tightening visa environment in the later years of US president Barack Obama and then Donald Trump appears to have compelled India’s IT industry to strengthen lobbying.

    The advent of new technology paradigms like robotics, AI, blockchain and IoT is changing how companies and individuals consume technology and for the Indian businesses to remain successful, an update to the technology of tomorrow, today will be needed, Nasscom Senior VP and Chief Strategy Officer Sangeeta Gupta said.

    People to people ties have been one of the defining elements of our friendship, Jaishankar told reporters at a joint news conference here with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo along with the Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

    Under this new process, employers seeking H-1B workers subject to the cap, or their authorized representatives, will complete a registration process that requires only basic information about their company and each requested worker.

    Claiming that they’ve reached a consensus on the Bill, Senators Mike Lee and Dick Durbin say it won’t be put to vote without majority backing. Speaking in the US Senate on Wednesday, Durbin, the Senate Democratic Whip who was previously opposed to the Bill, said the green card backlog was one of the most serious challenges the country faced.

    On Tuesday, the IT behemoth made an out-of-court settlement for $800,000 (Rs 5.7 crore) with the California Attorney General on charges related to alleged violation of B-1 visa rules by it. The charges include employing about 500 Infosys staff in California on B-1 visas rather than H-1B visas between 2006 and 2017.

    Under the new system, only applications selected through the random selection process will be eligible to file the H-1B cap subject petitions. Through this new process, USCIS hopes to dramatically streamline processing by reducing paperwork and data exchange, and will provide an overall cost savings to petitioning employers.

    A crackdown on H-1B visas over the past two years has, however, resulted in a sharp spike in rejections and made Indian companies realign their strategies, whether in hiring more people locally or setting up centres elsewhere. Indian companies have also found it hard to source highly skilled labour locally. That has made Europe look more attractive.

    The bill seeks to bring in amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per-country limitation for employment-based immigrants. However, another provision will bar 50:50 companies (those with 50 employees and more in the US or with 50 per cent of staff on H-1B work visas) from bringing in more employees on H-1B into the US.

    In 98.4% of the cases where the H-1B visa was denied, the employer chose not to file an appeal, said David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which is based in Washington, DC.

    The changes may see the introduction of additional requirements to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders.

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