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Policy: Labor

Senate immigration bill bars three India-based companies from extra H1-B visas

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Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Immigration,Labor,Analysis,Dick Durbin,India,Visas

Washington Examiner contributor Shikha Dalmia explains in an excellent Business Insider post why high tech workers in the Indian subcontinent are rooting for the demise of the Senate immigration bill.

Their opposition is because the bill favors U.S. companies like IBM and Accenture using the H1B visa program to recruit high-skill workers. While the bill potentially raises the number of annual visas to 185,000, business lobbyists have ensured that not everyone will be able to take part equally.

“The Senate bill would raise the cap on high-skilled H-1B visas from 85,000 to potentially 185,000. But without naming them, it targets four companies—Tata Consulting Services, Wipro, Infosys and Cognizant—and bars them from taking advantage of the extra visas. (All are India-based except Cognizant, which is headquartered in New Jersey but was founded by an Indian.),” Dalmia notes.

The Senate bill would prohibit any company with both more than 50 employees and more than half of its domestic workforce on H-1Bs from applying for more visas after 2016, thus putting the four companies Dalmia referenced at a severe disadvantage.

If that were not enough, in the meantime, the visas fees those companies will have to pay for every additional applicant will rise to as high as $15,000. For other companies, the fee will just be $5,000.

This is quite intentional on the part of the bill’s Democratic authors, who were bowing to pressure from organized labor to limit the H1B program. In fact, allowing the program to be expanded at all represented a tough compromise between the two groups and Silicon Valley.

“Americans would be shocked to know that the H-1B visas are not going to Microsoft; they’re going to these firms, largely in India, who are finding workers, engineers, who will work at low wages in the US for three years,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

It’s something to bear in mind the next time a Democratic lawmaker goes into high dudgeon over Republican efforts to limit immigration or begins to wax rhapsodic about the benefits these hard-working people bring to the country. Democrats can be every bit as partisan and self-serving on immigration policy when it comes to protecting their own interests.

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Sean Higgins

Senior Writer
The Washington Examiner