“These provisions undermine the ability of U.S. companies to compete in the global economy,” said John Procter, a spokesman for Cognizant, a leading outsourcing firm with 157,000 employees, 1,000 clients worldwide and an annual revenue of $7.4 billion.
Three Indian technology firms are among the top 10 recipients of H-1B visas, and the Senate bill has received extensive coverage in the Indian news media. In April, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters that he raised the issue with Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.
Chidambaram said the “temporary relocation of knowledge workers” was fundamentally different from other immigration issues.
A recent study by J.P. Morgan predicted that the Senate rules could lower India’s gross domestic product by up to 0.4 percent in 2015.
Sheela Murthy, an immigration lawyer in Maryland who emigrated from India, said she has received calls from outsourcing companies concerned about the future of their businesses.
“They’re telling me they will go out of business,” she said. “Thousands in the United States will be laid off. Thousands more than that in India will be impacted.”
U.S.-India trade has grown five-fold since 2000, reaching $100 billion annually, said Karl Inderfurth, a U.S. assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration who is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Some U.S. firms fear that the disagreements could prompt India to impose new sanctions on American companies trying to do more business in that country. In Friday’s meeting, U.S. officials are prepared to raise their concerns with Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma about property rights violations by Indian companies and caps on foreign investment in India’s insurance industry, according to analysts.
Technology firms are happy that a U.S. House committee last month approved a separate bill that adds new high-tech visas without the restrictions imposed in the Senate.
“If this controversy is solved at the bill level, it will be quick and easy to handle,” said Sudin Apte, chief executive of Offshore Insights, a global technology firm based in Pune, India. “If it becomes a geopolitical negotiation, it would be open to a lot of other challenges.”
Peter Wallsten in Washington and Rama Lakshmi in New Delhi contributed to this report.