Nasscom proposes new service visa to replace H-1B

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Nasscom proposes new service visa to replace H-1B
Bangalore: Nasscom, the IT body of India, has proposed a new category of service visas for the U.S. to replace the controversial H-1B visa. The service visa will allow company to send their employees to the U.S. on work for a certain period and will not lead to immigration or permanent residency.

Nasscom has kicked off the dialogue process with key Congressmen and industry groups, such as TechAmerica, Compete America and the U.S. India Business Council, for the proposed change in visa. It is also encouraging a more comprehensive debate on the issue of immigration abuse rather than limiting it only to H-1B or L1 visas.

Som Mittal, President, Nasscom said, "We do not wish to encourage the abuse of visas for immigration. Our objective is to get the work done and bring back our people. There are 11,000-12,000 Indians who go to the U.S. for work and their average stay is less than two years."

In April this year, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durban proposed a legislation to limit both H-1B and L1 visas and force firms with over 50 percent of their staff as H-1B and L-1 visa holders to hire U.S. locals, sending alarm bells through the Indian IT industry. Nasscom's move, if successful, will protect the interests of the Indian IT industry by allowing them to continue sending their employees to the U.S. on service visas for the duration of the work. "There is a need to differentiate between matters of trade and immigration," said Mittal.

Ganesh Natarajan, Vice-Chairman, Zensar Technologies said, "The service visa will enable U.S. companies to avail the best of Indian talent without worrying about immigration issues. It will not have residency or permanent citizenship implications," said Ganesh Natarajan, Vice-Chairman, Zensar Technologies.

IT firms, both Indian and multinational, are one of the largest users of H1-B visas. In the past few years, there have many unsuccessful attempts to restrict the use of H1-B visas through legislations that have proposed a cap on the number of visas that can be issued.

According to industry estimates, there are about 12,000 employees from Indian IT firms and 10,000 from American IT firms that go to the U.S. annually on these visas. This year, due to slowdown and reduced demand for technology services, only around 45,000 H-1B visas have been issued compared to the total available 65,000 H-1B visas.

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