US immigration bill: 3 things to know

The United States is planning an ambitious overhaul of its immigration laws that could eventually provide, among other things, a pathway to citizenship for several million illegal and undocumented immigrants in that country.

As a group of senators in the US intend to unveil the draft bill in the next few days, Here we tell you what it could mean for India, especially the IT sector.

What is immigration bill all about?
Lawmakers in the United States are debating an immigration reform bill that is aimed at giving legal status to over 10 million undocumented immigrants and bringing in high-skilled technical talent to the world’s largest economy.

The reform process also intends to revamp work-visa rules to make it easier for American technology firms to bring in foreign-born engineers.

What does it mean for Indian IT firms?
Indian IT companies – including Infosys, Wipro and TCS – send thousands of engineers on H-1B and L-1 visas to the United States every year to work on client sites. Some local lobby groups argue that Indian IT firms,which are the largest users of H-1B visas, have been abusing the visa system in the US by bringing cheap foreign workers to replace Americans workers.

Nasscom, Indian IT industry body claim that the immigration bill draft contains proposals changes to visa rules in a manner that could force Indian software firms to cut down on the number of employees working on H-1B work visas and hire more local employees to fill those positions. The bill may also make it possible for American firms such as Microsoft, Intel, and Google to hire more workers on H-1B visas to fill their vacancies.

Unfavourable provisions could be seen by India as an unfair, and restrictive trade practice by the US to keep Indian IT firms away from the US market.

Who are behind the bill?

A group of 8 senators, sometimes referred to as the Gang of Eight -four democrats and four republicans – are pushing for the immigration reform bill. A draft bill is expected to the unveiled over the next two or three days.

The so-called gang of eight include former Republican presidential nominee John McCain, Democratic senator Chuck Schumer and Republican senator MarcoRubio, a possible Republican presidential nominee in 2016.

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