Satyam among Indian IT firms topping H-1B visa users

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Four Indian IT outsourcers – Infosys Technologies, Wipro Technologies, Satyam Computer Services and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) – dominate the list of companies who won H-1B visas in 2008. The four together used more than 10,000 of the visas for skilled professional limited to 65,000 foreign-educated workers per year, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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Microsoft was the only US company with more than 1,000 H-1B visas, while Cognizant Technology Solutions and Cisco Systems made the top 10 list of H-1B visa users. Other US companies grabbing H-1B visas in 2008 were Google, Oracle, Yahoo, Motorola, IBM and Apple.

Leading the list of 2008 H-1B visas was Infosys Technologies with 4,559 visas. It was followed by Wipro Technologies with 2,678 H-1B visas, Satyam Computer Services with 1,917 H-1B visas and TCS with 1,539 H-1B visas.

Microsoft clocked in with 1,307 H-1B visas in 2008. Cognizant Technology Solutions (467 visas) and Cisco Systems (422) were the only other US companies making the top 10 list of H-1B users.

Other notable US technology firms using H-1B visas in 2008 included Google (207), Oracle (168), Yahoo (139), Motorola (112), IBM (104) and Apple (70).

A favourite of American technology companies, the H-1B programme is a temporary work visa programme allowing American companies and universities to employ foreign guest workers who have the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in a job category that is considered by the USCIS to be a “specialty occupation.”

The H-1B programme has been dogged by controversy over the last decade as Silicon Valley companies have repeatedly urged Congress to raise the cap on the number of visas allowed, currently set at 65,000 visas per fiscal year. Lawmakers have resisted, citing concerns over fraud in the H-1B programme.

In October 2008, a USCIS report found that the H-1B programme has a more than 20 percent violation rate. The fraud identified in the report included jobs not being located where employers claimed, H-1B visa holders not being paid the prevailing wage, forged documents, fraudulent degrees and “shell businesses.”

Even before the report was issued, three senators, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Bernie Sanders of Vermont were seeking reform of the H-1B visa programme.