Indian IT group says H-1B fee hike will hurt U.S. hiring

NASSCOM warns of protectionism, trade challenges and job losses

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It could also reduce investment by offshore firms in U.S. facilities and the hiring of American workers, said Mittal.

There isn't data on how many U.S. workers have been hired by offshore firms, but the numbers are likely small. Tata Consultancy Services in April reported that it employed 141,000, of which more than 93% were Indian. The company employs 10,700 that are nationals in other countries. Of that number, only about 12% are Americans.

The offshore firms still face a threat of the so-called "50/50" provision that limits the number of H-1B or L-1 visas to 50% of the U.S. workforce. This provision was introduced in legislation last year by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and may turn up in a comprehensive immigration bill.

Schumer is leading the immigration reform effort, but has not released a bill. However, he has proposed giving Green Cards for science and engineering advanced degree graduates. In comments yesterday, Schumer said: "I like the H-1B program, and I think it does a lot of good for a lot of American companies. In fact, in the immigration proposal I made ... we expand H-1B in a variety of ways."

NASSCOM estimates that the fee increase will cost its member firms $200 to $250 million. This calculation is based on the estimate that the $2,000 increase will be added to the $320 H-1B filing fee, as well another $2,000 added to the $500 antifraud fee. Companies also pay $750 to $1,500 to support training of U.S. workers. That fee depends on the size of the company. NASSCOM is using a base of 45,000 to 50,000 L-1 and H-1B visas annually, but that includes new ones, transfers and renewals.

It said the need for new ones is partly due to people returning to India.

Mittal also argued that the fee increase might deter foreign students from enrolling in the U.S. "The ... U.S. is saying 'foreign talent is not welcomed,'" said Mittal.

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

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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