India’s information technology industry body on Monday came out in defence of its members – Infosys Ltd. and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. (TCS) – after the U.S. accused these firms of cornering a lion’s share of H-1B visas issued.
Only six of top 20 H-1B visa recipients were Indian companies in financial year 2014-15, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) said in an emailed statement on Monday. TCS and Infosys together received 7,504 or 8.8 percent of the total number of approved H-1B visas, the statement added.
Indian IT firms put extra tickets in the lottery system, a White House official said on April 17, adding that this has prompted the Trump to replace it with a more merit-based immigration policy. “…the top recipients of the H-1B visa are companies like Tata, 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,” the senior official had said, according to the transcript of the briefing posted on White House website.
Indian technology firms use H-1B visas to send their employees to work at customer sites in the U.S. The very next day, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a review of H-1B visa programs to favour more skilled and highly paid applicants. One of Trump’s campaign promises included encourage companies to buy American products and hire American workers.
“All Indian IT companies cumulatively account for less than 20 percent of the total approved H-1B visas; although Indian nationals get 71 percent of the H-1B visas,” the NASSCOM statement said, asserting that this is a testimony to the high skill levels of Indian-origin professionals. Even then, the annual number of Indian IT specialists working on temporary visas for Indian IT service companies is about 0.009 percent of the 158-million-member U.S. workforce, the IT industry body said.
NASSCOM also highlighted a possible shortage in skilled labour in the U.S. in the industry. By the U.S. Department of Labor’s estimates that there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs by 2018, with more than 50 percent of these vacancies in IT-related positions.
Earlier, TCS’ Chief Executive Officer Rajesh Gopinathan refuted claims that the company uses H-1B visas to keep the wage bill lower. He pointed to the company’s low attrition rate to prove that it is a good pay master. “We pay as per market norms or even better than market norms,” Gopinathan said in an interview to BloombergQuint.
Rajesh Gopinathan, MD & CEO, TCSThe fact that we have the lowest attrition in a highly supply constrained environment, the facts of the case suggest that this is complete nonsense.
According to a NASSCOM survey highlighted in the industry body’s statement, the average wage for visa holders is more than $82,000 apart from a fixed cost of about $15,000 incurred for each visa. This is over 35 percent higher than the minimum prescribed exempt wage of $60,000, it added.