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Nath to raise H1-B visa issue at G4

May 17, 2007 12:11 PM IST India India

Washington: H1B visas are in news again. Two influential US lawmakers have accused top Indian IT companies of misusing the visa program. They say the firms are displacing American workers by hiring Indians at lower wages. Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley are Senators on a mission. These two top Republican lawmakers say they suspect some Indian IT companies of abusing America's work visa or H1B program. In this letter written to 8-Indian IT giants including Infosys, Wipro and Satyam, the Senators have asked firms to disclose personnel records. The Durbin-Grassley Bill comes at a time when the US Senate is getting ready to take up a critical immigration reform bill that has a provision that could increase the annual quota of H1B visas. As a result Pro-India groups in Washington are aggressively lobbying lawmakers to contain any negative fallout from the controversy. One of the most prominent of those groups is the US-India Business Council or USIBC that represents more than 200 large US companies investing in India. Council president Ron Somers defends the H1B program, saying it boosts the American economy by meeting a critical shortage of skilled workers. USIBC President Ron Somers says, “Certainly there's no fraud. These are our member companies who have been written to. USIBC is now vigilant about getting back on Capitol Hill to re-educate members of Congress as to the benefits of the integration of our economies.” This year's annual H1 quota of 65-thousand visas expired in record time, prompting calls from supporters for an urgent overhaul of the program. Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath has taken a tough stand on US allegations of H1B visa misuse. He said that he will raise the issue at the G4 meet in Brussels. Nath says such accusations will adversely impact the fast growing services trade.