18 December 2008

Possible American visa cutbacks likely to disadvantage outsourcing firms

Experts are warning companies that it may become more difficult to obtain H-1B and L-1 visas in the future, reports Computerworld News.

Some firms are also expressing concerns that the President-elect Barack Obama may not help them to get an adequate number of American visas so they can outsource skilled labour and maintain high levels of productivity.

Obama promised during his election that his government would "stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas" and encourage companies to keep jobs in the US, although he has yet to release plans for the H-1B visa.

The American H1B visa is one of the most sought after temporary non-immigrant visas, as it allows qualified foreign workers entry into America for undertaking employment.  This visa only applies to certain foreign workers, and requires that the American employer petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service on behalf of the prospective foreign employee.

To obtain an H-1B visa the foreign worker must be employed in a specialty occupation, and the employer (petitioner) must file a labour condition application with the Department of Labor before the visa can be processed.

For some companies, American visas are a vital part of their success.  For example, Infosys Technologies Ltd employs 7,000 people on the H-1B visa and 1,500 on the L-1 visa, while smaller companies such as Mastech Holdings Inc. have 40 per cent of its workforce on an H-1B visa for America.

The H-1B cap is currently sitting at 85,000, which includes 20,000 reserved for advance degree holders.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in American visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, American Visa Bureau.

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