The Bangalore-based Wipro has asked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek American President Barak Obama’s intervention to remove provisions in the proposed US immigration bill that may hurt Indian IT firms.
The IT services major’s chairman Azim Premji said in a letter addressed to the PM that provisions of the Senate Bill that are discriminatory and target Indian companies are – outplacement bans and restrictions; attestation on recruitment of US workers; and higher wages to H-1B employees vs American employees.
Recently, the Obama Administration said that the Senate version of the comprehensive immigration bill would benefit Indian skilled workers in the U.S. “The Senate Immigration bill and its provisions around H-1B visas would not only be good to the United States but also would be good for India as well,” a senior administration official said recently.
Premji sought PM’s support to seek White House intervention to eliminate the discriminatory provisions in both the Senate and House Bills and to treat Indian IT service providers at par.
He says his letter is in the interest of Indo-US relations and in keeping with Indian PM’s vision to increase bilateral trade by five times from the current level of US$ 100 billion.
The United States Senate in June passed a landmark immigration bill retaining killer provisions on H-1B visas that would badly hit Indian IT companies in America, PTI reported.
Discriminating against Indian companies in favor of American IT services companies including leading companies aggressively selling into India, this is not in the interest of free trade, according to Premji.
The Bill, if it becomes law in the present form, will deal a body blow to Indian IT services firms using the guest worker visa (H1B program) to win contracts in the US as it legislates higher fees and salaries, thereby robbing Indian companies of their competitive low-cost edge.
Wipro’s Premji says contrary to misconception, Indian IT companies in US in the past five years have created American jobs of at least 35,000 and today support 2,80,000 jobs in the US. Three out of these four jobs are held by Americans. Contrary to this, a leading American Services company in the last six years has reduced 36,000 American workers.
“If discriminatory elements against the Indian IT industry survive in the final form of the Senate Immigration Bill, we believe it will be detrimental to India-US trade and encourage Indian government to be more conservative in opening up trade between US and India,” Premji added.
The bill, if passed, would also pave the way for fast-track permanent residency (Green Card) for foreign students who graduate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects. This may be positive for those seeking to buy their way into American residency through the education route, but it will bleed elite Indian talent.
With these restrictions, the US companies will lose access to a talent pool provided by the Indian companies in a market where there is an acknowledged shortage of Engineering and Science Graduates in the US, Premji said.