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Tata Consultancy CEO Seeks Eased Visa Tensions From Obama Visit

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. says it’s banking on President Barack Obama’s visit to India next week to ease concern over increased U.S. visa costs and protectionism toward software-services companies.

A bill passed by the U.S. Senate in August increased visa costs, Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chief executive officer of Tata Consultancy, India’s largest software exporter, said in an interview during the Sibos conference in Amsterdam yesterday.

“There’s been a lot of talk about regulatory changes and the protectionist discussions, which are very concerning for the industry,” he said. “I hope what happens during the visit reduces those tensions.”

The bill, passed unanimously by the Senate, would add $2,000 to visa fees for companies with more than half of their employees in the U.S. on such visas. The increase could cost software-services companies based in India, such as TCS and Infosys Technologies Ltd., as much as $250 million a year, Som Mittal, president of Indian industry trade group Nasscom, said on Aug. 6.

Technology companies such as Wipro Ltd. and Infosys send skilled workers from overseas, often from India, to the U.S. to develop software and manage projects for customers in the country. TCS has absorbed the increased visa costs in its business model, Chandrasekaran said, although he couldn’t say if Mumbai-based Tata Consultancy will take measures to soften the effect, such as hiring more U.S. workers.

‘Strategic’ Visit

“TCS continues to hire people in different markets,” he said. “We have two big centers in the U.S, one in Cincinnati and one in Midland, Michigan, and we continue to hire professionals in these centers and also in other parts of the U.S. We’ll continue to pursue that. We need to see how the whole regulatory develops and then make suitable changes.”

Obama will address a conference sponsored by the U.S.-India Business Council Nov. 6 in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, while in India at the start of a four-nation trip to Asia.

The trip is “very strategic,” Chandrasekaran said. “I hope the trip makes our two nations much more close and we start engaging in many more strategic initiatives than ever before.”

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