Top Indian IT companies hit hard by US Visa restrictions

Top Indian IT companies hit hard by US Visa restrictions

Top seven India-based IT companies in the US collectively experienced a whopping 37 percent drop in approved H-1B visa petitions in 2016 as compared to the previous year, according to a new report that comes amid the Trump administration's crackdown on the "visa abuse".

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The companies experienced a drop of 5,436 approved petitions (37 percent) in 2016 as compared to the previous year, said a report by the National Foundation for American Policy -- a Washington-based non-profit think-tank.

It said that the 9,356 new H-1B petitions for the top seven India-based companies approved in fiscal 2016 represent only 0.006 percent of the US labour force.

"While the threat of job loss has long been exaggerated by critics, it reaches illogical proportions when discussing fewer than 10,000 workers in an economy that employs 160 million workers nationwide," the National Foundation for American Policy said in a statement after releasing the report.

The report comes after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April for tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme to stop "visa abuses".

Trump said his administration is going to enforce 'Hire American' rules that are designed to protect jobs and wages of workers in the US.

The executive order also called upon the Departments of Labour, Justice, Homeland Security, and the state to take action against fraud and abuse of the US' visa programmes.

According to the report, the number of approved new H-1B petitions for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) declined by 56 percent from FY 2015 to FY 2016, from 4,674 to 2,040, a drop of 2,634.

For Wipro, the petitions declined by 52 percent between FY 2015 and FY 2016, a drop of 1,605, going from 3,079 to 1,474 approved petitions for initial employment during those years.

For Infosys, it declined by 16 percent (or 454 petitions), with 2,376 approved H-1B petitions for initial employment in FY 2016, compared to 2,830 in FY 2015, said the report, which based its research on government data.

"The drop in new H-1B visas for India-based companies, which is expected to continue when data are released on cases filed in April 2017 for FY 2018 start dates, is due to industry trends toward digital services such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence, which require fewer workers, and a choice by companies to rely less on visas and to build up their domestic workforces in the US," the report said.

"H-1B petitions approved for initial employment in FY 2016 were filed by employers in April 2016, which means the drop in H-B visa use by these companies is not due to Donald Trump's election.

"In the past, US policymakers have used the number of visas going to India-based companies as a political or policy reason to propose new immigration restrictions and to not raise the low annual supply of H-1B visas, which has been exhausted every year for the past 15 fiscal years," said NFAP executive director Stuart Anderson, former head of policy at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service under President George W Bush.

Among the top companies with new H-1B petitions approved in 2016 were Cognizant (3,949), Infosys (2,376), TCS (2,040), Accenture (1,889), IBM (1,608), Wipro (1,474), Amazon (1,416), Tech Mahindra (1,228), CapGemini (1,164), Microsoft (1,145), HCL America (1,041), Intel (1,030), Deloitte (985), Google (924), Larsen &Toubro (870), PricewaterhouseCoopers (713), Ernst & Young (649), Apple (631), Syntel (583), Facebook (472), Oracle (427), Cisco (380), Mindtree (327), Goldman Sachs (287), UST Global (283), JPMorganChase (271), IGATE (255), Stanford (221), Yahoo! (206) and KPMG (198).

An analysis of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data on FY 2016 H-1B petitions shows, similar to FY 2015, approximately 25,000 different US employers hired at least one high-skilled foreign national on a new H-1B petition in 2016.

Employers in manufacturing include Tesla Motors with 108 approved new H-1B petitions and Cummins with 197.

Uber had 121 approved H-1B petitions in FY 2016, eBay 115, and the Mayo Clinic 111.

National Foundation for American Policy said the April 2017 unemployment rate in the US for "computer and mathematical science" occupations was 2.5 percent a very low rate, even lower than the 4.4 percent for "all occupations," according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics data.