Immigration Enforcement

Anger Grows in India over H1-B U.S. Visa Rules

With the economies in the U.S. and India both struggling and with unemployment rising, the outsourcing of American jobs to Indian workers has become an even more explosive issue. That’s leading business leaders, politicians, and ordinary citizens in both countries to focus on a controversial visa program, the H-1B, that allows a limited number of foreigners to work at U.S. companies for up to six years. Critics have long claimed the program allows high-paying software-writing and engineering jobs at companies and state governments to go to foreigners.

On Feb. 23, the H-1B critics got a new round of ammunition. Data released by the U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services showed that in 2008, for the second year running, many of these visas went to Indian IT services companies that were sending engineers to the U.S. temporarily to work. In effect, a visa that had been designed for U.S. corporations to remain competitive at a time of talent shortage had become a blessing for the U.S. operations of global Indian companies, allowing them to send engineers from India, rather than hiring locally.

The news comes at a time when many Indians already suspect the U.S. is trying to put a squeeze on the country’s successful outsourcing industry. Each year, the American government hands out 65,000 H-1B visas, and Indian engineers receive many of them. However, as part of President Obama’s economic stimulus package, Congress passed provisions to bar any U.S. company that receives bailout dollars from directly hiring workers on these H-1B visas.

Fueling India’s Diaspora

In India, there has been a swift outcry. “This is just irrational protectionism,” says Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of India’s Planning Commission. “It makes no economic sense at all.”

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February 25, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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