'Proposed curbs on US visa rules to impact customer sentiment'
New Delhi: Software services industry body Nasscom on Monday said the proposal by a group of 8 US Senators to restrict business and work visa is "discriminatory" and cautioned that such a move will hit the customer sentiment besides impacting the Indo-American trade relations.
Stating that the proposal by 'Gang of Eight' is "very strategic" and it is of great importance to India, Nasscom President Som Mittal said: "For me, it is a trade issue and not an immigration issue. Like we have free flow of goods either side, I think it is as important to have free flow of highly skilled people it is part of the business."
"It will be discriminatory and will impact our competitiveness as well as ability to service our customers. We have feasible information that such regulations are being put inside the current draft, which is to be released soon," he said.
The US Senators are working on the negotiations for a comprehensive immigration reform, which includes conditions like firms having more than 15 percent H1B population would be prohibited from placing any H1B visa holder at a client site, sources said.
Besides, employers would be restricted from placing L visa holders at client sites (and the client would have to attest to non-displacement of US workers, companies would be required to pay many of their H1Bs substantially more than market wages, etc, they added.
Nasscom has not seen the proposed draft of regulations, but was aware of such developments through reports, Mittal said. "We haven't seen the draft yet, but these are the likely changes that they are suggesting," he added.
On the impact of such a move, Mittal said "It will not impact the industry in the short term (this quarter), but it could start giving concerns to customers. The customers can think will Indian firms be able to deliver. So, it will start impacting customer sentiment."
He cautioned that it is an important issue, which needs to be addressed at the earliest.
"We need to weigh it and it is very strategic and it is important to India. It will impact our ability to compete on a level playing field with other players," he said.
Meanwhile, USIBC, a top US body representing American companies doing business in India, in a letter to the 'Gang of Eight' said such a move will impact Indo-US trade relations.
The US India Business Council (USIBC) has opposed several provisions of the proposed bill, which it believes, if implemented, would end up targeting Indian companies.
"Our greatest concern centres on proposals that would preclude access to visas or impose unworkable visa-related restrictions and fees on a company's ability to sponsor H-1B and L-1 visas based upon their business model or the composition of its local workforce," USIBC President Ron Somers wrote in the letter.
The eight Senators are: Michael Bennet, Richard Durbin, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John McCaain, Robert Menendez, Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer.