Fearing Trump’s visa stance, Indian IT firms are spending top dollar on lobbying

At least Indian IT hopes he will be.
At least Indian IT hopes he will be.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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As US president Donald Trump threatens to tighten immigration policies, Indian tech giants are lobbying harder in Washington than before.

In 2017, India’s second-largest IT services company, Infosys, spent $200,000 (Rs1.3 crore) on lobbying the US Congress, four times more than it did in the previous year, data from non-profit Center for Responsive Politics showed. Wipro, the third-largest in the sector, spent $130,000—five-and-a-half times more than a year ago.

The country’s largest  IT company, TCS, also increased its spend on lobbying to $110,000 in 2017, up 37%.

Such lobbying (i.e., trying to wield influence on policy-making) has gained unprecedented importance for Indian IT companies since Trump took office in January 2017. His administration has made several moves to make the “Buy American and Hire American” vision come true. This has made the application process for the highly sought-after H-1B visas harder for computer programmers. Indian IT companies are the biggest beneficiaries (pdf) of the H-1B visas, while the US is their biggest market.

However, in 2017, India’s IT trade association Nasscom’s lobbying expenditure fell 11% to $390,000. The organisation had spent an all-time high of $440,000 in the election year 2016.