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IT industry to urge Bush to raise H1-B visa cap

Our Bureau

Bangalore , Feb. 21

THE information technology industry would pitch for increasing the number of H1-B (non-immigrant) visas and a mechanism to refund the social security taxes paid by the Indian professionals in the US, when President Mr George Bush visits India early next month.

Mr Kiran Karnik, President, National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), said the Indian IT industry, a major user of these visas, has been facing troubles over the low number of H1-B visas that is currently capped at 65,000.

"The 65,000 cap is far too low," Mr Karnik told reporters on the sidelines of the second Sino-India Software Industry Cooperation Summit here on Tuesday. "It is something we share completely with US corporations who are equally concerned."

The US had increased the H1-B visa cap to 1,95,000 during the peak of the tech boom but scaled it down following a slowdown in early 2000s. Mr Karnik said that market forces should decide the cap depending on the demand-supply situation. "We have a concern not only in the cap but also speed. H1-B visa takes far too long for processing and granting," he added.

Nasscom, Mr Karnik said, was looking forward to certain "proactive and substantial" steps from the government in the forthcoming Budget to give a push to the education and infrastructure sectors.

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