Page 55 - IACC Newsletter March-April 2014 Issue 03

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Indian-American Vivek Wadhwa, a technology entrepreneur, academic and fellow at Stanford Law University, who has
been campaigning for an easier immigration regime for entrepreneurs, was quoted as saying 44 per cent of all founders in
Silicon Valley were of Indian origin. In a statement, India's information technology lobby body, Nasscom, said it believed
"these measures will help attract and retain talent in the US by addressing some of the operational and social issues,
alleviating skills shortages to some extent". It, however, sought more clarity on some of the key announcements.
The reforms are silent on the long-pending demand of industry to increase the quota of H-1B visas, used by Indian
software companies to send workers to their centers in the US.
However, there could be some clarity on the L-1 category of visas, used to send professionals with highly specialized skills.
A few years ago, industry had been reporting a rejection rate of 40-50 per cent for L-1 visas. Ron Hira, associate professor
of publicpolicy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, said the direction fromObamawould likely include an expansive
definition of "specialized knowledge", whichwould provide cheer to outsourcers, as theywere the largest beneficiaries of
the L-1 category.
In his speech, Obama also recognized the fact that the process for giving green cards (US citizenship) needed a significant
overhaul. According to industry estimates, securing permanent US citizenshipmight take between 11and 72 years, forcing
many to return to their countries after their work visas expired. Directions have been given to hasten the processing of
green cards for skilled individuals, apart from allowing seekers to change employers while they wait for approval. Also,
spouses of individuals with lawful permanent resident status or the permission to seek green cards can find work during
their stay in the US.
"All these are very positive measures, but we are yet to see the nuts and the bolts to understand the actual impact on
India and Indians in the US," said Poorvi Chothani, Executive Council Member, IACC; immigration attorney and managing
partner of LawQuest, an immigration law firm inMumbai. In a letter to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS),
Jeh Charles John, secretary of homeland security, US, said, "I direct the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and USCIS
develop regulations for notice and comment to expand the degree programmes eligible for OPT and extend the time
period and use of OPT for foreign STEMstudents and graduates, consistent with law."
To secure a work visa in the US, students have to find an employer who can sponsor it. However, often, even when
students have a sponsor, they do not get work visas due to limited quotas, etc.
WHAT DO WE GET?
Students pursuing STEMcourses in US universities to get extended stay after completing their courses
Clarity on L-1 visas, largely used by Indian software companies to send workers with specialized skills to the US
Directions have been given to hasten processing of green cards for skilled individuals & allowing change of
employer while waiting for approval
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