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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

February 14, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Report: Most H-1B visas for outsourcers, Microsoft gets 11th most

With Congress considering Microsoft’s pitch to enlarge the tech visa program, Computerworld sifted through the list of H1-B visa recipients over the last two years.

It turns out the biggest visa users aren’t U.S. tech companies desperate to fill crucial jobs.

Instead, the largest users of the program by a wide margin have been outsourcing companies such as Cognizant, Tata, Infosys and Wipro that are performing work on behalf of clients in the U.S.

Perhaps American companies are outsourcing work to these vendors because they can’t hire enough people to do the work in-house. Or maybe they’d directly hire more overseas tech workers if the government made additional H1-B visas available.

But on its face, the data raises questions about whether additional H1-B visas really will benefit job creation at U.S. companies. Will it instead lead to an expansion of U.S. companies outsourcing their technology work to contractors? This isn’t all bad – with visas, the contractors will live and work close to their clients – but it’s not the same thing as creating permanent U.S. jobs.

Microsoft, which initiated the current push to expand the visa program, received the 11th most H1-B visa approvals last year – 1,497, up from 1,384 in 2011, according to Computerworld’s report.

The largest recipient – with 9,281 last year – is New Jersey-baed Cognizant, which mostly employs Indian nationals for its tech work in the U.S. and Europe, the report noted.

Accenture and IBM overtook Microsoft this year, receiving 4,037 and 1,487 visas, respectively. The previous year each was approved for fewer H-1Bs than Microsoft.

Amazon.com was approved for 775 H-1B visas last year, Boeing received eight,T-Mobile received six and Nordstrom received one, according to a searchable database that accompanies the report.

 

 

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