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US grants 86% H-1B visas to Indians: study

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Houston: Most of the H-1B visas granted by the US government for workers in computer jobs are for people from India, according to new data.

Almost 86 per cent of the H-1B visas that the US granted for computer jobs went to Indian workers, a Computerworld analysis analysis of government data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request shows.

Most of those H-1B visa holders work for outsourcing companies, such as Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). China was far behind on the second place at just over 5 per cent of H-1B visas for IT occupations, and no other nation rose above 1 per cent, according to data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

About 76,000 H-1B visas were issued to people in computer occupations in 2014. IT services companies “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,” said Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration.

The outsourcing companies prefer to hire “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”, Lowell said.

The numbers are widely different when compared to H-1B visas for engineers, which includes electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical, aeronautical and other specialties.

In that category, Indian workers are still on top with 47 per cent of the visas, or 8,103, followed by China with 19.5 per cent; Canada 3.4 per cent; Korea 2.4 per cent; Mexico, 2.2 per cent; and Taiwan and Iran with 2.2 per cent each, the data shows.

The hiring of H-1B workers has raised concerns after it was reported that some US companies were using IT outsourcing companies to replace their IT shops, leaving American IT professionals out of work.

Some of the US workers had to train their replacements, who worked for IT outsourcing companies.

The issue has led to lawsuits by laid-off IT workers and prompted calls in Congress for an investigation into the use of H-1B visas. Lawyers for the outsourcing companies have said there is no requirement for a foreign company doing business in the US to employ US workers. The companies are only required to comply with immigration laws.