Indian IT cos face annual H1-B visa audits, tighter rules

Indian IT companies might soon be forced to allow annual audits by the US Department of Labour on the usage of H1-B work visas. A new draft proposal to push for tougher enforcement will be reintroduced by US Senator Charles Grassley before the senate, sources told NDTV Profit.

In the wake of recent allegations of work visa misuse, the US Republican Senator is gearing up to reintroduce a draft policy for H1-B employers that calls for an annual audit of usage of H1-B visas by employers (above 100 employees) largely from the IT industry. Also the enforcement of H1-B visa rules might be transferred to the US Labour Department from the Citizenship and Immigration Service department, sources said. The new draft policy will not include employees issued L-category short term visas.

Grassley’s earlier attempts at passing bill on H1-B reforms have failed due to lack of support from the US Congress and Senate. But this time, to ensure he gets his support, Senator Grassley will allow smooth passage of the long-pending bill that eliminates per country-cap on green-card holders, sources said. In return, his draft policy on H1-B visa reforms is expected to go through.

However, experts do not feel that this will negatively impact the Indian IT industry. Top IT companies like TCS, Wipro, Infosys and Cognizant use a lot of H1-B visas that allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers.

“The overall objective is to remove the per country cap on H1-B and green card. It should not bother the IT industry and particularly for the Indian IT industry other than some small overheads for managing the auditing I don’t think there should be any issues,” Sundararaman Vishwanathan, Manager – Consulting at Zinnov said.

He adds that the change in department might lead to a change in the way policies are implemented. “But irrespective of that, if the companies are putting the right candidates for the right reasons under the H1-B regime, there should not have any issues whoever is in whether it be the department of home and security or department of labor,” he said.

Recently US Federal investigators unearthed an H-1B fraud scheme involving Indian and Chinese immigrants recruited for jobs that did not exist. Even IT major Infosys was pulled up by the Department of Homeland Security for likely errors in employer eligibility documents of its employees working in the US.

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