Indian IT Group Spends Rs 2.8 Crores on H1B Visa Lobbying

A software advocacy group spends nearly Rs 2.8 crore to safeguard the interests of the Indian IT industry in the US.

VENKAT KONDUBHATLA

Washington: A software lobby group, NASSCOM or National Association of Software and Services Companies, spent nearly Rs 2.8 crore in 2016 to lobby with the US Congress against the tightening of the H1B Visa norms, according to the opensecrets.org.

The amount spent is the highest since 2003, when the body lobbied for more liberal rules for Indian engineers.

The IT industry has been facing challenges from factors, such as the tightening of H1B visas, growth of artificial intelligence, and automation.

Since Donald Trump took office, the overall IT stocks have fallen by about 3 percent. The IT industry is worth about $108 billion with more than 1,000 companies and contributes about 9.5 percent to the Indian GDP.

The tightening of H1B visa norms is the major cause for the drop in the IT stocks. The cancellation of premium processing of H1B visas, initiatives to deter visa abuse and visa reform proposals introduced in the US Congress have caused worries in the IT companies, many of which depend on the H1B visa program that allows foreign workers to work in the United States.

Trump, who wanted to restrict the H1B visa program to hire only skilled workers, has reportedly shown interest in a bill introduced in the Congress that proposed a salary hike of H1B visa holders from $60,000 to $130,000. This bill if passed and became law would be a major blow to the IT industry and especially to those that employ minimum to zero American employees in the United States.

However, many Indian IT leaders show optimism in the face of H1B reforms. They believe that the industry will eventually come out with flying colors. They say that the industry had absorbed many changes in the past and this would just be one more of them.

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