Senate immigration bill may push back on globalization
Sources say legislation may tighten the ability of large IT services firms to use H-1B visas
Computerworld - The long-awaited U.S. Senate comprehensive immigration bill, which could be released on Tuesday, will likely contain provisions onerous to offshore outsourcing firms that are dependent on H-1B visas.
The bill may be seen by India as an attack on its offshore outsourcing industry, which gets about 50% of its revenue from North American customers.
Indian officials and trade groups are already raising alarms in advance of the bill's release.
A bipartisan Senate group, the so-called "gang of eight," has been developing the bill. A hearing on the bill is expected on Friday.
Details remain murky, but sources close the negotiations are expecting that the bill will make it difficult for IT services firms to use large numbers of H-1B visas to hire workers.
Obstacles to H-1B visa use may include escalating fees that would rise with the percentage of a firm's U.S. workforce on a visa.
The bill could also include a formula that requires large H-1B users to pay higher wages for some workers. They can do this by stipulating a higher prevailing wage tier for some workers.
Access to H-1B visas may also be linked to a willingness of IT services firms to shift workers to permanent residency or green cards.
Som Mittal, president of Nasscom, India's largest industry group, told The Times of India that such restrictions are "discriminatory" and are a trade issue.
Similarly, India's U.S. ambassador, Nirupama Rao, in an op-ed in USA Today, urged lawmakers to "consider the impact of their decisions on the ability of both U.S. and foreign-based companies to expand now and in the future."
The view from India is that the H-1B visa is as much as part of routine cross-border trade as the purchase of, for instance, a Boeing plane. Writes Rao, "a generous visa policy for highly skilled workers would help everyone; both nations would come out winners."
Supporters of liberal H-1B visas policies, as it pertains in offshore outsourcing, argue that restrictions on H-1B use may prompt offshore firms to find ways to reduce their reliance on U.S. based workers and do more work overseas. It may, as well, force them to hire more locally-based workers.
For IT workers, the H-1B visa, however, is often seen as tool for replacing them with lower wage workers.
Whatever Senate bill makes it out of committee still faces fights in the Senate and the House.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- U.S. Senator blasts Microsoft's H-1B push as it lays off 18,000 workers
- Court case offers a peek at how H-1B-fueled discrimination works
- Obama has big options for green card, H-1B reform without Congress
- An H-1B whistleblower tries again for justice
- If immigration reform is dead, so is raising the H-1B cap
- Many comments on new H-1B rule, but few are 'unique'
- Readers rant about IT worker who trained H1-B replacement
- Cantor, a reliable 'yes' vote for raising the H-1B visa cap, is unseated
- This IT worker had to train an H-1B replacement
- An H-1B cap hike would mean a grim future for workers
Read more about Gov't Legislation/Regulation in Computerworld's Gov't Legislation/Regulation Topic Center.
- Deep Security +VMware vSphere with Operations Management Most midsize organizations are highly virtualized on VMware, and while this has produced significant savings, it also has created new challenges when it...
- Single-Vendor Security Ecosystems Offer Concrete Benefits Over Point Solutions IT security decision-makers from companies with 100 to 5,000 employees evaluates the current endpoint security solution market based on Forrester's own market data,...
- Best Practices for Security and Compliance with Amazon Web Services This paper will discuss what part of the shared responsibility equation customers are responsible for and what some of the recommended security practices...
- Case Study: Intuit Turns to Self-Service IT Intuit empowered its users to resolve their own IT issues with a consumer-like experience to free IT to focus on more strategic initiatives....
- Business-driven data protection Setting up data protection infrastructures with your organizations' core mission or business in mind is key. In this webinar, the ARCserve team will...
- On-Demand Webinar: Mind the Gap! Watch the webinar featuring Bob Janssen, CTO and Co-Founder of RES Software, to start building a solid foundation for business and IT to... All Gov't Legislation/Regulation White Papers | Webcasts