We have written before on this blog about the visa issues that offshore service providers face when bringing talented resourced to the U.S. from other countries. Since there are a finite number of H1-B visas that can be issued each year, some service providers have sidestepped the limit by obtaining B-1 visas, which contemplate a more short term engagement than most outsourcing contracts envision.
In response to a host of immigration issues, the Senate has recently introduced a bill that would not only increase the number of H1-B visas that can be issued each year, but would also include an automatic increase to a maximum of 300,000 visas annually if there is sufficient demand. Currently, the United States has an H-1B visa cap of 65,000, and the proposed legislation would increase the cap to 115,000, with the potential to rise to 300,000.
The proposed legislation would certainly ease the visa restrictions on offshore service providers that are seeking to bring top talent to the United States. A recent report in the Economist has noted that there is an increasing trend in customers bringing offshored services closer to home in the United States, and this proposed legislation would make it easier for offshore suppliers to staff in the U.S. using foreign workers. In particular, the Economist noted that Infosys has opened new offices in the U.S. in order to accommodate its customer's requirements for on-shore offices. With the trend of customers moving IT services back closer to home, the relaxed visa restrictions will put offshore service providers in a better position to win business with their top talent located in the U.S.
However, celebration for service providers is a bit premature, as the new bill is part of a much larger immigration overhaul and is likely to undergo substantial modification over the coming months.