The bill targets outsourcing companies where more than 50 percent of the workforce holds H-1B visas or L-1 visas for intracompany transfers, including Mumbai-based TCS and software firm Wipro. Those companies would have to pay an additional fee of $10,000 per visa in 2015 and would be restricted from having more than half of their staff members on visas by fiscal 2017.
The changes mean “the combined costs of hiring someone that is not an American citizen is real to the companies in question,’’ Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said May 21.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the legislation May 21. It includes border-
security enhancements that would be paid for partially through a new fee on H-1B visas and through surcharges on citizenship applications. The money would go into a trust fund to help buy drones to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border, to build more secure fencing and to hire more law enforcement personnel.
That part of the bill is designed to meet Republican lawmakers’ demands that any immigration legislation include measures to make it harder for undocumented workers to enter the country. The measure also includes a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in the United States.
Outsourcing companies have criticized the higher fees.
The bill “will impose arbitrary and onerous new penalties and costs that will threaten the competitiveness of U.S. businesses globally,’’ TCS spokesman Michael McCabe said in an interview.
Teaneck, N.J.-based Cognizant Technology Solutions, which provided back-office support and other services to companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, said its business would be threatened by the legislative changes.
The higher fees and restrictions on employment visas “would be detrimental to Cognizant,’’ Gordon J. Coburn, president of Cognizant, said May 8 in an earnings call.
Cognizant was the top sponsor of H-1B visas in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, receiving 9,336 new visas, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data. The company declined a request to disclose the total number of U.S.-based employees holding H-1B visas.
“It’s not like our clients can go out and hire these people,’’ Coburn said. “These people don’t exist.’’
Under the Senate’s proposed fee structure, Dublin-based Accenture would have paid $10.1 million more in H-1B visa fees for fiscal 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Accenture spokeswoman Joanne Giordano declined to comment.