Somís ride with Uncle Sam may get choppier

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SummaryWith Barack Obama getting re-elected as US President, Nasscom president Som Mittalís engagement with Uncle Samís protectionist stand has received an extension.

With Barack Obama getting re-elected as US President, Nasscom president Som Mittalís engagement with Uncle Samís protectionist stand has received an extension. Obama gave Som plenty of grief in his first tenure, but the former HP-man has never wanted the world to see the bruises.

Over the last one year, the number of visa rejections for business travellers to the US had risen dramatically and Indian technology professionals have had the rough end of the stick in this regard. While earlier visa rejections stood well under 10%, these days that number is inching towards the 40% mark. Clearly, Indian IT vendors have been hard-hit on this front. Neither have they been able to support their customers adequately on-site, nor have they been able to put a cap on this additional expense.

While Nasscom has been trying its best to deal with the situation, it has not been easy, as evident from the continuing issues on the visa front. This was especially true in the run-up to the Presidential elections. Indian software companies have probably not worked out ways to surmount the reasons behind the restrictions placed on H1-B and L1 visas.

The issue had kicked into a higher gear, when Infosys was accused of visa abuse by the US Department of Homeland Security. That was a tough time for Som & Co. Infosys made it very clear that there was no such abuse and eventually proved that without doubt. Yet, that was a blot that took some time to wipe away.

Som has been vocal about the issues emanating from the interpretation of visas, but the problem is there does not seem to be one clear way of judging the rules. Nasscom has been trying to hammer this out with US consulates, but it may take some more time before there is more clarity on this.

Nasscom is upset that visa rejections have not come down, despite the fact that Indian IT firms have continued to create more and more job opportunities in the US. In the last five years, the number of people who have received employment from Indian IT firms in the US, has roughly doubled. The firms have also tried to increase their campus recruitment drive in America, in order to tide over the anti-outsourcing wave. Companies like Infosys and TCS have made more investments into their US centres. In fact, they are investing more than ever before.

Yet the

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