WASHINGTON - The U.S. today began accepting H-1B visa applications for the next fiscal year, with heavy demand expected. The visas will likely all be claimed by end of this week, and a major share of the H-1B visas will go to firms that use visa holders to displace U.S. workers.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data, provided to Computerworld, is very clear about who are the largest users of H-1B visas: Offshore outsourcing firms.
The U.S. makes 65,000 H-1B visas available each fiscal year under its base cap, with an additional 20,000 set aside for advanced degree graduates of U.S. universities. On April 1 each year, it accepts visa petitions for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
Top H-1b visa approvals in FY 2013
|LARSEN & TOUBRO||1580|
|ERNST & YOUNG||373|
|POLARIS SOFTWARE LAB||262|
|HEXAWARE TECHNOLOGIES INC||250|
|JP MORGAN CHASE & CO||213|
|GOLDMAN SACHS & CO||185|
|DELL MARKETING LLP||157|
|NIIT TECHNOLOGIES LIMITED||152|
|HEADSTRONG SERVICES LLC||144|
|THE MATHWORKS INC||144|
|INFOTECH ENTERPRISES AMERICA INC||142|
|PERSISTENT SYSTEMS INC||140|
|EXPERIS US INC||138|
|HITACHI CONSULTING CORPORATION||132|
|GLOBALFOUNDRIES U S INC||124|
|FUJITSU AMERICA INC||115|
|ITC INFOTECH (USA) INC||115|
|UNIV OF MICHIGAN||110|
|BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE||107|
|BANK OF AMERICA N A||103|
|MU SIGMA INC||97|
|AGILITY TECHNOLOGIES LLC||96|
|JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV||96|
|CSC COVANSYS CORPORATION||92|
|MARVELL SEMICONDUCTOR INC||90|
|RELIABLE SOFTWARE RESOURCES INC||87|
|NESS USA INC||86|
|SCHLUMBERGER TECHNOLOGY CORP||86|
|SYSTIME COMPUTER CORPORATION||86|
|SAMSUNG TELECOMMUNICATIONS AMERICA||85|
|COLLABERA INC PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS||84|
|YASH & LUJAN CONSULTING INC||84|
|HCL GLOBAL SYSTEMS INC||82|
|CGI TECHNOLOGIES AND SOLUTIONS INC||81|
|CALSOFT LABS INC||80|
|BUSINESS INTELLI SOLUTIONS INC||79|
|GRANDISON MANAGEMENT INC||78|
|CLEVELAND CLINIC FOUNDATION||77|
|RS SOFTWARE INDIA LTD||77|
|UNIV OF MINNESOTA||77|
|UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN||77|
|JUNIPER NETWORKS INC||73|
|YASH TECHNOLOGIES INC||73|
|KPIT INFOSYSTEMS INC||71|
|MCKINSEY & COMPANY INC U S||71|
|NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE||71|
|UNIV OF PENNSYLVANIA||71|
|CSC COVANSYS CORP||70|
|COMPETENT SYSTEMS INC||69|
|HEALTH CAROUSEL II LLC||68|
The IT services firms among the top 20 H-1B users accounted for a little more than 50% of the annual base visa cap of 65,000. This is for initial visas approved in the 2013 fiscal year, not renewals. This percentage excludes some other top 20 H-1B users, such as IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, Google and Oracle. (See list chart)
The two largest H-1B users are Indian-based, Infosys, with 6,298 visas, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), with 6,258. In third place is Cognizant, which is based in New Jersey, but runs large offshore centers. These firms have long dominated the top H-1B list spots.
These numbers represent only the visas approved last year. The H-1B is a six-year visa, and IT services firms have consistently been the largest visa users year after year. (Note: The list also includes H-1B users exempt from the cap, which includes universities and research institutions.)
IT service firms use H-1B workers in offshore outsourcing contracts. IT workers affected by offshoring decision will typically train their replacements as a condition of severance. This has been the situation, for instance, at Northeast Utilities in Connecticut, which late last year announced plans to outsource some its IT work to Infosys and TCS and cut around 200 IT workers.
"The offshore outsourcing firms are once again getting the majority of the visas," said Ron Hira, a public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. "The program continues to promote the offshoring of high-wage American jobs."
The tech industry, through lobbying organizations such as Compete America, argues that there is a skills shortage in the U.S., which justifies the need for H-1B visas. The claim of a skills shortage is in dispute, however.
Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist, argued in a column Monday that the idea of a skills gap is something "that should have been killed by the evidence, but refuses to die."
The IT offshore industry is worried about the prospects of immigration reforms that may restrict access to H-1B visas. These firms have been saying that they are increasing their hiring of U.S. workers, permanent residents or U.S citizens.
Cognizant, in a statement, said it "is committed to attracting and retaining the top talent in the United States and around the world. We create and support thousands of American jobs, including 7,000 U.S. workers hired locally over the past two years and a commitment to hire at least 10,000 more locally over the next three years. Cognizant has a robust campus recruitment process at U.S. colleges and universities, leveraging our proximity to STEM education hubs."
But Cognizant does not disclose data to support its U.S. hiring claims, such as the percent of its U.S. workforce on visas.