Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on April 24, 2009
Indians already worried about a growing anti-outsourcing movement in the U.S. have another problem on their hands. Two U.S. senators are re-introducing a bill, originally proposed two years ago, to impose new restrictions on American companies hiring foreign workers on H-1B visas. According to my BusinessWeek colleague Moira Herbst, the bill - from Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin - went nowhere in 2007 but now, with unemployment above 8%, “has a better chance of passing.”
The timing of this move is especially interesting, coming smack in the middle of India’s elections. Many of these H-1B visas go to workers from India, and Indian politicians in the past few months have expressed concern about efforts to cut back on the controversial program. See for example my colleague Mehul Srivastava’s February BusinessWeek story about anger in India about the H-1B controversy. Back then, one Hindu nationalist leader was threatening a boycott of U.S. companies in retaliation. I don’t think anything came of that, but I think it’s safe to expect a lot of Indian politicians to pounce on this latest news and try to score some points locally by talking tough against the Americans.