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Visa misuse irks US, BPOs likely to be hit

Jun 29, 2007 09:23 AM IST Business Business

Washington: The outsourcing row between India and the US is once again hotting up with US senators Richard Durbin and Chuck Grassley saying they suspect foreign companies, including Indian IT firms, of abusing US L Visas. L Visas are issued to MNCs and foreign companies who want to transfer employees to their offices in the US from other countries. But unlike the H1B visa, it’s not as strict with labour laws. Durbin questions how firms that get a large number of H1B visas also manage to get many L Visas. In a recent statement he says, “I find it hard to believe that these L visas are being used appropriately, when many of the same companies are some of the largest employers of H1-B workers. It's clear that foreign outsourcing firms are abusing the system and we can't let that continue.” According to information put up on Senator Grassley's website, several prominent Indian companies feature in the list of top L-Visa applicants. These include IT heavyweights Tata Consultancy Services, Satyam and Wipro. “I'd like to know how many American workers these companies hire compared to the number of foreign workers they bring in,” writes Senator Grassley. But Commerce Minister Kamal Nath dismisses these concerns. He says short-term visas like the H1B, should not be perceived as a threat. “H1B is a win-win. It’s not a concession, it’s a business-to-business issue, not an issue between the governments,” he said. NASSCOM too has reacted to the two senators' statements. While it admits the issue needs more attention, it says visa abuse is restricted to smaller Indian firms. Ironically, the senators' allegations come at a time when the US Senate attempts to revive an Immigration Reform Bill, which includes provision for increasing the number of H1B visas.