H-1B visa: Data shows US companies bigger beneficiaries than Indian IT firms

Indian IT companies may have faced the wrath of Donald Trump administration for cornering a large number of H-1B visas for years, but data on the total IT job visas distributed by the US authorities in FY15 shows a different picture altogether.

Contrary to the recent Trump administration's claims that Indian software firms like TCS and Infosys were the key beneficiaries of the total H-1B visa allotments, this data shows large American corporations in fact enjoyed bulk of these permits during the financial year ending 2014-15, The Financial Express report said.

As per the data, top 30 companies received 35,120 H-1B visas of the roughly 65,000 visas that US authorities approved in FY15. Of the 30 firms, 19 were headquartered in the US, with nine in India and two in France.

The 19 US headquartered companies were allotted 18,904 H-1B visas as against 15,136 visas obtained by the nine Indian firms and 1,080 visas by the two French companies, the FE report said.



“The share of the Indian companies in the total H-1B visas would still be much less than their American counterparts. The Indian IT companies are not complaining about the US firms getting such a large number of H-1B visas. But they are hurt by the selective targeting of them by some of the US officials when they make public statements,” the an industry source was quoted as saying in the FE report.

The report further adds that the total number of visas obtained by Indian IT firms in FY16 was even less than the previous year.

At a White House briefing last week, an official in the Trump administration said a small number of giant outsourcing firms flood the system with applications which naturally ups their chances of success in the lottery draw.

“You may know their names well, but like the top recipients of the H-1B visa are companies like Tata (TCS), Infosys, Cognizant—they will apply for a very large number of visas, more than they get, by putting extra tickets in the lottery raffle, if you will, and then they’ll get the lion’s share of visas,” the senior official said, according to transcript of the briefing posted on White House website.

Responding to a follow-up on why Indian companies were singled out for a mention, the White House response said Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Cognizant were the top three recipients of H-1B visas.

“And those three companies are companies that have an average wage for H-1B visas between $60,000 and $65,000 (a year).

However, an internal survey by IT industry body Nasscom showed that professionals earned average salary of around $82,000 a year in 2015, about 35 percent higher than the US government's minimum wage of $60,000.

Indian technology firms use H-1B visas to send their employees to work at customer sites in the US, which is the largest market for the over $110 billion Indian IT export industry.

Over the past few weeks, there is a growing sentiment of protectionism across various markets, including the US, that are seeking to safeguard jobs for locals and raise the bar for foreign workers.

"Nasscom would like to clarify on the statements made by the White House on Indian companies getting the lion's share of H-1B visas and highlight that in 2014-15, only six of the top 20 H-1B recipients were Indian companies," it said in a statement recently.

The annual number of Indian IT specialists working on temporary visas for Indian IT service companies is about 0.009 per cent of the 158-million-member US workforce, said Nasscom.

The industry body also said companies tend to bridge the skills gap by bringing in highly skilled professionals to temporarily work in the US on H-1B and other visas.

"Indian IT Industry is a 'net creator' of jobs in the US and supports nearly half a million jobs directly and indirectly," it pointed out.

In fact, Infosys on Tuesday said it plans to hire 10,000 American workers over the next two years in an apparent move to tide over H1-B visa-related issues in the US.

The company also said in a release that it will open four new technology and innovation hubs across the US focusing on areas, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, user experience, emerging digital technologies, cloud, and big data.

With PTI inputs

Updated Date: May 03, 2017 15:41 PM

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