IT stocks fell as much as 4 per cent on Friday amid concerns that a bill backing key changes in the H1-B Visa programme, that allows skilled workers from countries like India to fill high-tech jobs in the US, has been re-introduced in the US Congress. Shares of Infosys lost 2.50 per cent, TCS went down by 2.18 per cent and Wipro dipped 2.18 per cent on BSE.
These three stocks were the biggest laggards on the benchmark Sensex that ended 119.01 points lower at 26,759.23. Among others, shares of Tech Mahindra slipped 3.80 per cent, Hexaware Technologies went down by 3.73 per cent, HCL Tech (3.55 per cent) and Mphasis (2.20 per cent). The BSE IT index fell by 2.54 per cent to end at 9,880.61. The top four companies – TCS, Infosys, Wipro and HCL Tech – together lost over Rs 22,000 crore in market valuation.
“Stocks continued the week-long surge, but with Q3 figures expected to flow in shortly, and with IT stocks bogged down by US visa restriction fears, profit-booking gained traction as the day drew to a close,” said Anand James, Chief Market Strategist, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services Ltd. A bill backing key changes in the H1-B visa programme has been re-introduced in the US Congress by two lawmakers who claim that it will help crack down on the work visa abuse. The ‘Protect and Grow American Jobs Act’ makes important changes to the eligibility requirements for H1-B Visa exemptions was re-introduced by Republican Darrell Issa and Scott Peters – both from California.
The bill, among other things, increase the minimum salary of H-1B visa to USD 100,000 per annum and eliminates the Masters Degree exemption. The bill comes after a number of companies — Disney, SoCal Edison and others — have come under fire for abusing the H1-B Visa programme to replace American workers with foreign workers.