TCS, Infosys hike lobbying spends in US

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BENGALURU, APR 25
Lobbying spends have increased for several Indian IT services companies in the US as they try to limit the damage from the Trump administration’s moves to make immigration difficult.
TCS spent $120,000 in the first quarter of 2018, sharply up from just $20,000 that it spent in the same period last year. In fact, it was $20,000 in every quarter of 2016, and in the first three quarters of 2017. But in the last quarter of 2017, it went up to $50,000, and there was a quantum jump in the subsequent quarter.
Infosys spent $60,000 in the whole of 2016, but it went up more than three times, to $200,000, in 2017, and was $60,000 in just the first quarter of 2018.
In the last quarter, TCS hired international law firm Squire Patton Boggs for lobbying on legislation and US policy related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, according to the company’s lobbying disclosure filed with the US House of Representatives.
For STEM education, TCS has a programme called Ignite My Future that aims to reach 1 million students in five years. TCS is also using the law firm to seek clarity on an certain tax issues and their impact on financial reporting.
Infosys has roped in McGuireWoods Consulting and spent $60,000 on lobbying issues related to the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, and the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act. Last year, the company employed Washington-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and spent $50,000 in the March quarter on lobbying on issues related to immigration and communications/technology.
Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School, said he thinks Indian IT services companies have hired lobbyists to try to stop bills that would restrict H-1B visas for them. Several such bills are pending in Congress. “For example, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Richard Durbin, the second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, have co-sponsored a bill to restrict both H-1B and L-1 visas. I don’t think Congress will enact any immigration bills this year, but Indian IT services companies obviously feel it is important to know what members of Congress are thinking,” he said.
The companies have substantially reduced their dependence on work visas over the past few years, but they still remain important. The US immigration authority, however, has made it difficult to obtain them. In recent times, there is at least a 45% increase in requests for evidence for H-1B visas – requests to produce more evidence to show that there is good grounds to bring a person from outside the US to do a certain work.

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