Indian IT industry hopes for H1B increase during Bush visit

India's IT industry is hoping for some positive initiatives that will lead to a free trade agreement with the US in the services sector during President George W. Bush's visit to the country.

India hopes that during Bush's visit to the country on Feb. 29 the US administration will also raise the visa limit for the entry of Indian tech professionals in the world's largest economy.

A large base of skilled talent that speaks English and service delivery expertise at a significant cost advantage have lured a large number of US firms like GE, Microsoft, Cisco and American Express to outsource jobs to India.

The Indian IT industry also hopes that Bush's talks with domestic policymakers and business leaders would also focus on America's "restrictive immigration regime" that, they say, acts as roadblocks in boosting tech trade relations.

According to local software makers, the current cap of 65,000 H1B visas, which allow technology professionals to work up to six years in the US, is inadequate to tap the emerging business opportunities there.

They say the Bush administration should consider relaxing the cap since US companies need a large number of Indian technology professionals to help them stay competitive in the global market.

"There should be specific services industry related visas and there should be no cap or delay in processing them," said Karnik.