Infosys visa settlement will not hurt Indian IT


infosysNew York: Technology giant Cognizant told NDTV that Infosys’s record visa settlement will not affect the Indian IT offshoring model. Gordon Coburn, President, Cognizant, said, “As long as you play by the rules you have nothing to fear. We are extraordinarily rigorous about our visa process and have zero tolerance outside the letter or spirit of the law.”

Last week, Infosys paid $34 million to US authorities to settle allegations of visa misuse and fraud, which included the use of inexpensive B-1 visas for jobs that required H-1B visa holders and for making errors in I-9 paperwork.

Cognizant said that the settlement will not affect the Immigration Reform Bill which is currently stalled in the House after the Senate passed its version in the summer of this year. “One visa settlement has very little impact on immigration reform. When and if the House passes its version, we believe it will be positive for US companies and the economy. And the reality is that US companies, including Silicon Valley, cannot find enough domestic talent. We need highly skilled workers from India to stay competitive.”

As a US-headquartered company with a huge business presence in India, Mr. Coburn feels that both the Congress and the BJP are equally committed to foreign investor needs but “it is difficult to do business when surprises come up. Both parties understand that the most important issue for foreign investors is certainty. India needs consistent and stable tax policies. When the Indian government asked for feedback from overseas investors earlier this year, retrospective taxation and SEZ policy were top of the list.”

On whether he sees Mr. Narendra Modi being better for business, a perception endorsed by Goldman Sachs on Monday, Mr. Coburn said he was indifferent. “We want certainty, the biggest risk is no clear consensus.”

Cognizant has more than 100,000 employees (out of its 166,000 global headcount) in India and has invested $1 billion in infrastructure. Mr. Coburn spoke to NDTV at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City, after the company announced record earnings for its third quarter. Quarterly revenue rose to $2.31 billion, up 6.7 percent sequentially and profit was $319.6 million, up 6.4 percent from the last quarter. Cognizant also raised its 2013 guidance up to at least $8.84 billion, up 20.3 percent from last year.