Indian IT firms on a lobbying spree on Capitol Hill

Trying to stem the Senate version of the immigration bill.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Indian IT companies in the US have drastically increased their lobbying budgets in an effort to stem the rising tide that the Gang of Eight bill has been gaining in Congress.

The bill includes provisions to make obtaining H-1B visas more expensive for companies looking to hire such employees, which means trouble for Indian companies like Infosys who rely largely on Indian employees that immigrate to the US for work. Some of the biggest Indian IT companies are now on a lobbying spree in order to make sure the Gang of Eight bill does not pass in its current incarnation.

Indian IT giants like Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Cognizant have all entered the fray. Wipro is reported to have spent roughly $240,000 from January to July in lobbying against the bill; TCS – which is India’s largest IT company and was recently hit with a lawsuit by Orange County, CA – has spent somewhere in the area of $30,000 on lobbying, while Cognizant has spent an astounding $520,000 in the January-July timeframe. In all of 2012, the company only spent $960,000; Wipro spent around $210,000 all of last year.

The umbrella body for all of India’s IT companies, NASSCOM, has also been engaging more vigorously in lobbying Congress to ease up its support of the bill, and is working with the US India Business Council, amongst others, to turn the tide against the comprehensive immigration bill.

At this point, the only thing certain is that the fight is far from over; the Gang of Eight bill has been passed by the US Senate but is being deliberated by the House of Representatives. Until it gets passed there, it seems that Indian IT companies will only increase their lobbying efforts.

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