26 May 2011

US visa scrutiny set to impact Indian technology industry

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The United States has increased scrutiny over the way that Indian companies are using temporary business visas amidst allegations that major firms are using the temporary visa to bring employees into America for longer-term assignments.

The scrutiny comes as United States authorities investigate whether one of India's largest technology outsourcing companies, Infosys Technologies Ltd, abused a temporary US Visa program to get Indian employees into America for longer-term assignments.

The investigation follows the introduction of new American immigration last year that significantly increased fees for skilled worker visas, a measure that was supported by senators who had determined that the visa practices of several Indian companies was misusing the American visa program.

IT companies in India generate approx. 60% of their annual revenue from clients in the United States, but most Indian companies rely on H-1B visas for their workers to enter America. However, these visas are capped at 65,000 a year, and the qualification criteria can be difficult to meet.

The investigation of Infosys focuses on whether it abused the B-1 visa category, which is only intended for short-term visits. 

Infosys released a statement earlier this week confirming that it had received a grand jury subpoena and that it intends to cooperate with the investigation. The statement also said: "At this time, we are not able to comment further on this grand jury investigation, but do want to reiterate that we take our legal-compliance obligations very seriously."

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their ESTA application to the US Embassy.

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