Bangalore: Two months after introducing the Durbin-Grassley visa reform bill in India and the U.S., the bill has once again been brought before the U.S. Senate. The bill if legalized will have serious implications for Indian IT companies as well as Indians seeking H-1B visas.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Charles Grassley, contains specifications that companies will have to follow to attain U.S. work visas called H-1Bs and L-1s. The bill according to the Senate's website has officially been logged as, S. 887; A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to reform and reduce fraud and abuse in certain visa programs for aliens working temporarily.
The most controversial of these stipulations is the '50/50' provision which would prohibit companies from obtaining any additional work visas if they have more than 50 U.S. employees and more than 50 percent of their entire U.S. workforce is made up of H-1B or L-1 visa holders. The provision could prevent companies like Wipro and Infosys from hiring more Indian workers to work in the U.S.
Rising unemployment in the U.S. has been cited as a reason for introducing the bill. Claiming that the provision would help protect American jobs, Grassley says, "The original rationale was that we needed to allow importation of managers and technical people when there weren't enough Americans available. It seems to me ridiculous that companies now have more than half of their workers on these visas when there are certainly a lot of workers in the U.S. who can fill in some of those positions."
There have been numerous outcries against the bill. Opponents in the U.S. for instance called the bill a piece of socialist legislature and a sign of growing U.S. protectionism. Top executives at firms like Tata and Infosys have said that the argument over the legislation could eventually lead to a trade dispute between India and the U.S.