Don't Forget About Visa Reform - InformationWeek

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Government // Leadership
Commentary
11/15/2013
08:00 AM
Esteban Herrera
Esteban Herrera
Commentary
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Don't Forget About Visa Reform

Visa reforms in the immigration bill will have a different effect on US and Indian firms. Both stand to benefit in the long run.

Visa reform proponents argue that the legislation could boost repatriation, nearshoring and rural sourcing, and domestic employment. On the other hand, corporations utilizing offshore providers and the providers themselves could decide that moving additional operations offshore is preferable to the uncertainty, risk, and exposure posed by visa issues. Or, companies could simply transfer in current H-1B visa holders from their providers as employees, rather than lose the institutional knowledge these individuals have acquired when it comes time to renew the visa.

Finally, changes in visa quotas could potentially result in a strategic step backwards in how clients and providers approach the service delivery supply chain. 

As the sourcing market has matured, and as we've moved to a truly global delivery model, many companies have wisely focused on business outcomes rather than on staff-augmentation or labor rates of individual providers. In other words, if a provider can deliver to a defined level of quality at the lowest possible cost, then the company it works with needn't worry about where the work is done or by whom. This perspective allows service providers to use global delivery models, economies of scale, process efficiency and automation. If visa restrictions, regulations and fees around staffing become a concern, the model changes and providers are forced back into the business of micro-managing their geographical distribution of resources.

At this point we're still very much in a "wait-and-see" mode regarding the ultimate outcome of the visa legislation. Given that the high-skill visa issue is tied to the broader immigration reform question, it's likely that the legislation will fall victim to Washington politics and the end-result will be business as usual.

Nonetheless, companies and service providers should keep abreast of the issue and be prepared to respond with alternatives and risk mitigation strategies should visa changes become official.

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eherreraisg
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eherreraisg,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2013 | 8:33:51 PM
Re: Servitude?
There are competing versions of the bill--not just one--but I don't believe any of them address switching jobs while on an H1-B...yet.
eherreraisg
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eherreraisg,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2013 | 8:32:03 PM
Re: On the Agenda?
I don't expect anything will even be debated until after the 2014 elections. We are looking at 2015 as the most likely time, but even then it might not pass. With one of the major parties deeply divided over the issue, there probably aren't enough votes in the House for it right now.

The INFY settlement made headlines but barely a blip on the industry--pretty much business as usual. I had expected competitors to pounce on the news but they have been strangely slient.
Alison Diana
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Alison Diana,
User Rank: Moderator
11/19/2013 | 9:58:19 AM
On the Agenda?
With so many powerful lobbyists working to get this pushed through, when can we expect movement again? Also, what effect -- if any -- will last month's agreement by Infosys have? To recap: The Indian outsourcing firm agreed to pay $34 million in a civil settlement after federal prosecutors in Texas found it had committed "systemic visa fraud and abuse" when bringing temporary workers from India for jobs in American businesses, according to the NYTimes. "

"Infosys "knowingly and unlawfully" brought Indian workers into the United States on business visitor visas since 2008, which avoided the higher costs and delays of a longer-term employment visa the workers should have had. They will charge that Infosys systematically submitted misleading information to American immigration authorities and consular officials to obtain the faster visas, unfairly gaining a competitive edge and undercutting American workers qualified for the jobs."
 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 1:31:29 PM
Servitude?
Does the immigration reform bill address the way that H1B workers are prevented from pursuing employment at companies other than their sponsor, creating a form of indentured servitude?
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