Outsourcing companies gaming H-1B visa programme, says NYT report

Outsourcing companies gaming H-1B visa programme, says NYT report

Outsourcing companies gaming H-1B visa programme, says NYT report

A report in The New York Times on the the ‘controversial’ H1-B visa programme has turned the spotlight on outsourcing companies, including those from India, for flooding the system with applications to significantly increase their chances of success.

In its report entitled, ‘Large Companies Game H-1B Visa Program, Costing the US Jobs’, which quotes researchers and lawyers, the NYT on Tuesday said that outsourcing companies have learned “to game the H-1B system without breaking the rules”.

The US Congress had set up the H-1B programme to help US companies hire foreigners with exceptional skills, to fill open jobs, and help their businesses grow. But the newspaper said the “programme has been failing many American employers who cannot get visas for foreigners with the special skills they need”.

The H-1B visas come with an annual cap of 85,000, and are given out through a computer-run lottery if applications exceed the quota. It is to maximise their success in the lottery that global outsourcing companies have flooded the system with applications, the newspaper said.

Of the 20 companies that received the most H-1B visas in 2014, 13 were global outsourcing operations, according to an analysis of federal records cited by Howard University Professor Ronil Hira . The top 20 companies took about 40 percent of the visas available — about 32,000 — while more than 10,000 other employers received far fewer visas each. And about half of the applications in 2014 were rejected entirely because the quota had been met.

Indian IT firms top table

The top companies receiving H-1B visas in recent years, Hira found, include TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, and Accenture. Together, the top five outsourcing companies had prepared as many as 55,000 H-1B applications. TCS, the company that had prepared applications for at least 14,000 visas, won 5,650 of them, the newspaper said.

Many of the outsourcing firms’ temporary workers earn $60,000 or just a little more, according to federal data compiled by Hira.

Recently, demand for the visas has soared; each year since 2013 the selection went to the lottery. This year, 233,000 applications were received in just seven days, and about two-thirds were denied because the quota was met, NYT said.

“The H-1B programme is critical as a way for employers to fill skill gaps and for really talented people to come to the United States for jobs,” Hira told NYT.

“But the outsourcing companies are squeezing out legitimate users of the programme. The H-1Bs are actually pushing jobs offshore,” said the Howard University Professor.”

Company    H-1B Visas

TCS     5,650
Cognizant     4,293
Infosys     3,454
Wipro     3,048
Accenture     2,275
Tech Mahindra America     1,781
IBM     1,462
L&T Infotech     1,298
Syntel Consulting     1,080
iGate Tech     886
Top 10 companies granted H-1B Visas in 2014. Source: NY Times

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