IT sector upbeat despite visa misuse controversy

IT sector upbeat despite visa misuse controversy

IT sector upbeat despite visa misuse controversy

"The visa issue is not something new and is just the old story being repeated. There are interpretational issues. There is a need for comprehensive reforms (in visa norms), something which President (Barack) Obama has also highlighted," Nasscom President Som Mittal told PTI.

Nasscom is deeply engaged in discussions with authorities to sort out such issues, he added.

Infosys, the country's second largest software exporter, has been in news on allegations of visa misuse.

After a lawsuit by a former employee, two more Infosys managers are believed to have submitted internal whistle-blower reports pointing to Indians on business visitor visas (B1) who were performing longer-term work not authorised under those visas.

B-1 visas are granted to business visitors coming to the US for short stays to attend meetings, conferences or training sessions, or to install specialised equipment.

H-1B visa, on the other hand, is a non-immigrant visa, which allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in speciality occupations.

"There are issues at two levels -- policy and operational. We hope these get sorted out soon," Mittal said.

Asked if these were impacting the reputation of the Indian IT industry, Mittal said, "This creates uncertainty and that impacts the industry."

Agrees N Chandrasekaran, Managing Director and CEO of TCS."The visa issue is not something new; the rejection rate has been running high for almost all through the last several months so it's something that we are trying to grapple with," Chandrasekaran told a news channel.

He added that Nasscom and individual companies have been in talks with the consulates.
"Nasscom and the individual companies or talking to the consulates to come to a common understanding and interpretation so that this can be put behind but having said that the overall environment looks good," Chandrasekaran said.

The pressure seems to be mounting for the Indian IT firms as a US senator has written to the US Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security, requesting that their respective departments review the B-1 business visa programme and investigate the manner in which it is being utilised by companies, including Infosys.

Even analysts like CLSA have raised concerns saying visa worries can impact margins.
Despite the uncertainty, the industry remains confident. "The order pipeline looks good and so, we are not reviewing our projection of a 16-18 per cent annual growth this year," Mittal said.

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