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Indian IT firms brace for tougher H-1B regulations

Indian IT firms adjust their visa strategies in the US as the government begins accepting foreign work applications next month.

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US President Donald Trump hasn't signed the executive order on revised H-1B visa application laws yet, but Indian IT firms are already bracing for tougher regulations when the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting applications on April 3.

India's Tata Consultancy Services will apply for 15 percent of the visas that it normally does while Infosys, a provider of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, has decided not to request H-1B visas for junior employees with less than four years of experience, reports The Economic Times.

IT services company Mindtree will follow the same strategy as Infosys, while India's fifth largest outsourcing company Tech Mahindra will apply for visas "proportionate to [its] business needs," reports Bloomberg.

Revisions to the H-1B visa were proposed earlier this year, including raising the minimum wage to more than $130,000. If the proposed revisions are passed, tech companies in the US will have to adjust hiring practices to prioritise local applicants before looking internationally to fill positions.

That said, White House press secretary Sean Spicer has assured Indian companies that the Trump administration will have a "comprehensive" look at the visa policy.

The H-1B visa was introduced in the '90s, allowing US companies that couldn't find qualified local staff to hire foreign talent. The program has come under fire in recent years over allegations that companies abuse the system to hire employ lower-cost foreign labour for jobs that could have been filled by Americans.

The tech industry consistently takes up the majority of H-1B visa approvals, accounting for 64.5 percent and 66.5 percent of approvals in 2014 and 2015 respectively, according to the USCIS. 70.9 percent of approved visa beneficiaries in 2015 were Indian nationals.

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