The fallout from the visa hike issue is still being felt across the global outsourcing industry. One of the obvious questions is whether large India firms will aggressively reshape their operating models to accommodate the new visa costs – or – is it just a mild bump in the road to continued expansion in the Americas?
Giving us an exclusive perspective on the issue is Ameet Nivsarkar , NASSCOM Vice-President for Global Trade, who is in charge of international and policy relationships for the India ITO/BPO advocacy group.
What long term impact do you think the visa fee hikes will bring to the way in which India outsourcing firms conduct business in the United States?
The fee per say is not going to be a large cause of concern. Our bigger concern is the direction all of this is taking. This is not the first attempt the US. Congress has taken to discriminate against India firms.
This is the first time we are seeing legislation go into law. Obviously India firms are concerned, and this certainly will add to the bottom line.
Do you anticipate that U.S. lawmakers will introduce further laws that will hamper or complicate business process and IT service delivery by Indian firms into the U.S.?
If you look historically in the past, in the last 18 months there has been many types of legislation introduced that go against India firms. There have been attempts made to completely ban access for visas for these firms. As comprehensive as immigration reform is, we worry that we might see more issues on that front.
What is Nasscom doing to help educate and provide different perspectives for the lawmakers?
We have been working on this for some time. We have spoken to the lawmakers who passed this bill. We have made the case that US customers will ultimately be impacted. I think this is being done with an eye on the elections – and unemployment is high, so there are political issues at play.
In your view, do you believe these actions are a determent to the long-term competitiveness of U.S. businesses?
Definitely the US is trying to stay competitive globally. Lawmakers seem to be taking a short term approach instead of looking at the long term. The cost of doing business in the US will go up. Obviously companies will look at other options to do business. The objective the lawmakers are citing – to create more US jobs – is commendable but the reality is they are making it difficult to operate in or locate operations in the US. It’s terribly short sighted. If you look at science, tech, engineering and mathematics- there are not enough skilled workers currently.
It is the view of Nearshore Americas that the new visa “surcharge” will become an incentive for India outsourcers to rely increasingly on Nearshore operations to deliver services. Do you agree or disagree?
I would think so. Companies are going to evaluate all the options, whether Canada or Latin America. The visa fee issue alone is not a deal-breaker, but if we get to the point of another step that is a deal breaker, then providers are really going to evaluate their options.
What is your overall view on the value of Latin America in contributing to the success of India outsourcing firms? Are there any drawbacks you see in leveraging Latin America?
We believe the future is extremely bright. We do believe that India will continue to be the center of gravity in global services. Latin America can bring in language capabilities and time zone and proximity benefits and we are firmly convinced the way forward will be to have a globally distributed model – pulling on the strengths of every location worldwide.