March 27, 2012

Visa Curbs: US, India firms seek Obama help

India's IT majors and their US clients and collaborators, including several large US corporations, have taken complaints about increasingly restrictive US visa policies to president Barack Obama, seeking his intervention to overcome curbs on incoming professional personnel from India.

At the heart of the grievance from companies in both countries is the "unprecedented delays and uncertainty" that US immigration authorities are creating around L-1 visas, which are used for intra-company transfers of employees from foreign offices to US offices. The companies say US immigration authorities are exceeding the law and misinterpreting rules in rejecting L-1 visa, affecting operations.

"Such delays or denials do not enhance compliance or enforcement and do nothing except disrupt carefully-laid business plans and create significant costs to the company and the economy," the companies said. Rejection rate of L-1 visas has gone up from 6% to 7% in 2008 to 27% in 2011, as per US immigration experts.

Signatories to the letter include a raft of US-based firms with large India operations such as Tata America International Corp, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Accenture, eBay, EMC, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard Co, Intel,

Microsoft , Texas Instruments, as well as Boeing, Dow Chemical , Caterpillar and Chevron USA. The letter is also backed by US chamber of commerce.

US immigration authorities have tightened interpretation of rules for L-1 and H1-B visas after complaints from lawmakers that Indian firms were misusing the visa category to undercut US wages and displace American workers . The issue is politically potent in an election year.

Signatories of the letter argue , that US immigration authorities have adopted an "inconsistent and improperly narrowed definition" of "specialized knowledge" , one of the requirements for issuance of an L-1 visa, according to ComputerWorld.

Courtesy: Times Of India

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