US Immigration Bill: Nasscom hires lobbyist, PR and law firms
New Delhi: With the USD 87 billion software export industry being hit by the new US immigration law, IT services industry body Nasscom has hired influential lobbyist, public relation and law firms to plead the case of Indian firms with Congressmen.
Last month, US Senate passed an Immigration Bill that changed rules governing H-1B and L-1 employment visas intended for high-skilled workers. Nasscom is however confident that 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, minus 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 public affairs firm 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 however 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 concerned people in the US.
"We have a law firm and we also have a PR firm. We need these resources. We need to analyse the Bill, what words need to change, etc," he added.
The legislation passed by US Senate allows more H-1Bs while also increasing their cost and barring some companies from placing holders of the visa with customers.
Indian software-export giants like Tata Consultancy, Infosys and Wipro rely on an army of such guest workers to service clients in the US, its biggest market. US contributes 65 percent of the revenue of these firms.
Non-immigrant H-1B visa allows companies in 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 percent 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.
Mittal said he was "very hopeful" that US House of Representative will not pass the legislation as approved by Senate.
After Congressmen pass their version of immigration bill, a final reconciliation conference between the two versions will take place, he said.
"We also work with industry body USIBC, 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.