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Last Updated Tuesday October 17 2017 03:32 AM IST

New H-1B visa guidelines to have little impact on Indian IT firms: Nasscom

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New H-1B visa guidelines to have little impact on Indian IT firms: Nasscom Image for representation only. File/Reuters

New Delhi: IT industry body Nasscom said Tuesday that the US' latest memo on H-1B visas would have "little impact" on Indian IT firms as they have already started applying for visas for higher-level specialized professionals this year.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently come out with a policy memorandum saying companies applying for visas must provide "evidence to establish that the particular position is one in a specialty occupation".

The new H-1B guideline rescinds a memorandum issued in December, 2000.

Seeking to play down the impact on outsourcing companies, Nasscom said the memorandum "reinforces existing practice by adjudicators and clarifies requirements for certain computer professionals".

"The clarifying guidance should have little impact on Nasscom members as this has been the adjudicatory practice for years and also as several of our member executives have noted recently, they are applying for visas for higher level professionals this year," Nasscom said in a statement.

Nasscom counts IT outsourcing firms like TCS, Infosys, Wipro as well as American firms like Cognizant, Microsoft, IBM and Accenture as members.

It added that the demand for additional evidence showing that the said job is complex/specialized and requires professional degrees mentioned in the memo has been the de-facto requirement for years.

India accounts for a significant portion of the H-1B visas, which are non-immigrant visas used by American firms to employ foreign workers that require specific expertise.

USCIS - a government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the US - issues about 65,000 H-1B visas in general category and another 20,000 for those applicants having higher education (Masters and above) from US universities in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Nasscom said the H-1B visa system exists specifically because of the "persistent shortage" of highly-skilled domestic IT talent in the US.

The US accounts for over 60 percent of the export revenues of the Indian IT industry.

"Nasscom member companies have and will continue to provide skilled talent and solutions to fill that gap and keep US companies competitive globally," it added.

However, industry watchers believe that coupled with immigration pushbacks being seen in other geographies like the UK and Singapore, the overall impact would make movement of labor difficult and operation costlier in the short term.

During his election campaign, US President Donald Trump had promised stricter immigration laws and protection of local jobs.

Indian firms like TCS, Infosys and Wipro, on their part, have been reducing their dependence on H-1B visas, ramping up local hiring to meet requirement.

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