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Indians Dominate Ranks of IT Workers on H-1B Visas

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on October 20, 2015

About 87 percent of H-1B visas for computer jobs are issued to Indians, according to a Computerworld analysis of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) data. The publication look at about 76,000 H-1B visas issued for new employment to people working in computer-related occupations in 2014. China accounted for the second-largest share (5.1 percent) and Canada received 0.8 percent of such visas. The remainder came from a number of other countries in smaller percentages.

Many of these visas go to employees at companies such as Infosys, an Indian-based IT service provider. In 2013, the company had 509 workers located at Apple Inc.’s Cupertino, California, headquarters, and 427 people at Aetna Inc.’s Hartford, Connecticut offices. In both cases, the majority of these workers were Asian.

“[IT services providers] apparently cannot get enough Indian programmers, which has little to do with a shortage of competent natives for these types of jobs, but a lot to do with the industry’s business model,” Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration, told the publication.

Lowell goes on to add that offshore IT providers like Infosys “prefer young H-1B programmers because the visa offers control over this contracted short-term workforce, it permits them to pay less than they would for experienced natives and they cultivate programmers who can better serve their clients after returning home to India.”

The distribution of H1-B visas varies more significantly in other occupations. In examining H-1B visas issued for engineering jobs, Computerworld found that 46.5 percent of the recipients were Indian, 19.3 percent were Chinese and 3.4 percent were Canadian; the remaining 30.8 percent of visas issued went to citizens hailing from other countries.

H1-B Visas the Subject of Recent Litigation

It may come as a surprise to many, but foreign companies operating in the United States are not obligated to first try to hire U.S. citizens as employees. However, foreign companies – like all companies – must obey U.S. immigration laws, as well as federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws.

Several Indian-based IT companies have been hit with lawsuits recently alleging that the companies favor hiring Asian employees over Americans. In April, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was sued in federal court alleging South Asian employees receive preferential treatment in hiring and promotion-related decisions. According to Computerworld:

“India-based Tata achieves its ‘discriminatory goals’ in at least three ways, the lawsuit alleges. First, the company hires large numbers of people who hold H-1B visas. From 2011 to 2013, Tata sponsored nearly 21,000 new H-1B visas, all primarily for people from India, according to the lawsuit’s count. Second, when Tata hires domestically in the U.S., ‘such persons are still disproportionately South Asian.’ And third, Tata disfavors the ‘relatively few non-South Asians workers that it hires’ in placement, promotion and termination decisions.”

TCS defends itself against the claim, saying that it is equal opportunity employer and focuses on non-discriminatory business reasons when making employment decisions.

In a 2014 lawsuit, Infosys was sued after the District of Columbia hired the company to build its Healthcare Exchange website, which was required under the Affordable Care Act. About 100 Infosys employees worked on the project, but only three were Americans. One of the American workers sued the company for discrimination based on race and national origin.

H-1B Visa Basics

H-1B visas are available to foreign nationals who:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent
  • Work in a specialty occupation that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Will be paid the prevailing wage for that job in the particular geographic region in which the worker will be employed

According to the USCIS:

“The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit, or cap, of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Additionally, H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education (or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities), a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to this numerical cap. Cap numbers are often used up very quickly, so it is important to plan in advance if you will be filing for an H-1B visa that is subject to the annual H-1B numerical cap. The U.S. government’s fiscal year starts on Oct. 1. H-1B petitions can be filed up to 6 months before the start date, which is generally April 1 for an October 1 start date.”

Obtaining H-1B Visas for Your Company’s Employees

If your company wants to hire foreign nationals in specialized occupations to work in the United States, you’ll need to obtain H-1B visas on their behalf. The Shapiro Law Group represents employers of all sizes to guide them through the process of applying for H-1B visas, L-1 visas, TN visas and other types of business visas for immigrants and non-immigrants. Call us today at (847) 564-0712 to schedule a free consultation.