A draft of a new US immigration law likely to be announced this week, holds mixed fortunes for international IT services companies and American businesses.
Globally competitive firms with offices in America, often send a number of foreign skilled workers on H-1B Visas to service American clients. This helps boost operating margins and reduces costs on to American consumers. The number of these Visas are currently capped at 65,000 per year.
The legislation is seeking to increase the cap on H-1B Visas to 110,000, with an extra 25,000 for those who have earned advanced STEM degrees in the US. This part of the bill has been warmly received by businesses and America’s friends and partners overseas.
However as part of a deal to create a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, other proposals in the bill will dictate to employers that they must pay workers on the highly skilled program on par with onshore workers and require businesses to advertise open jobs for 30 days on a U.S. Department of Labor website before they could bring in a foreign workers.
The result is that many U.S. business who have a significant contingent of overseas employees would be forced to pay significantly higher fees and endure larger operating costs. For service based businesses like IT management, most of the operating costs are purely from labor. Changing the pay rules may in effect drive many onshore companies out of business entirely, lowering tax revenues and in effect driving operations offshore completely. In a growing migration to cloud based IT management, that possibility is ever more likely.
Concern is also being voiced that these provisions have been made for the specific purpose of targeting Asian individuals in the United States and overseas, and that campaigns for comprehensive immigration reform will merely descend into a vote-bank exercise for future elections.