Indian Outsourcing Companies Top H-1B Visa List

Infosys Technologies, Wipro Technologies, Satyam Computer Services and Tata Consultancy Services dominate the USCIS list of companies winning H-1B visas in 2008, using more than 10,000 of the controversial visas limited to 65,000 foreign-educated workers per year. Microsoft was the only U.S. company with more 1,000 H-1B visas, while Cognizant Technology Solutions and Cisco Systems made the top 10 list of H-1B visa users, according to USCIS. Other U.S. companies grabbing H-1B visas in 2008 were Google, Oracle, Yahoo, Motorola, IBM and Apple.

Four Indian IT outsourcers topped the 2008 list of companies obtaining H-1B visas, followed by Microsoft as the top U.S. user of the controversial temporary work visas. Leading the list of 2008 H-1B permits was Infosys Technologies with 4,559 visas granted by the U.S. Bureau Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Following Infosys were Wipro Technologies with 2,678 H-1B visas, Satyam Computer Services with 1,917 H-1B visas and Tata Consultancy Services 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 U.S. companies making the top 10 list of H-1B users. Other notable U.S. technology firms using H-1B visas in 2008 included Google (207), Oracle (168), Yahoo (139), Motorola (112), IBM (104) and Apple (70).
The 2008 list was released by the USCIS in late February.
A favorite of American technology companies, the H-1B program is a temporary work visa program allowing American companies and universities to employ foreign guest workers who have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree in a job category that is considered by the USCIS to be a "specialty occupation."
The idea is to help companies hire foreign workers on a temporary basis when there is not a sufficient qualified American work force to meet those needs. H-1B visa winners can work in the United States for three years, with an option for an additional three years.
The H-1B program 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 program.
In February, federal agents conducted H-1B-related raids that resulted in 11 arrests across seven states. According to the Department of Justice, the scheme involved hiring college-educated foreign workers to allegedly fill high-tech jobs in Iowa when, in fact, the workers were sent to the East and West coasts while being paid the lower prevailing Iowa wage rate.
The investigation seems to center on Vision Systems Group, of South Plainfield, N.J., and Praveen Andapally, identified as president of VenturiSoft, also based in South Plainfield. Among the others indicted was Vishnu Reddy, identified as president of Pacific West, of Santa Clara, Calif.
Two months before those arrests, the hammer had already fallen on a Massachusetts scheme in which a state employee allegedly created bogus H-1B job certifications. Four men were charged Dec. 4 with producing documents falsely stating that H-1B visa applicants had jobs with the commonwealth of Massachusetts. Richard Schwartz, a now former Massachusetts employee, signed the documents and is charged with one count of visa fraud, which could mean penalties of up to five years in prison time and a $250,000 fine.
Sridhar Reddy, Sudha Rani and Venkat Naidu are also charged with one count of visa fraud. Reddy and Rani face additional charges of visa fraud totaling up to 15 years of prison.
In October 2008, a USCIS report found that the H-1B program 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, Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Bernie Sanders of Vermont were seeking reform of the H-1B visa program. A bill introduced in the 110th Congress by Grassley and Durbin would require employers to make a good-faith effort to hire American workers first. Employers would also have to show that the H-1B worker would not displace an American worker.
The bill, likely to be reintroduced in the new Congress, would require employers to advertise job openings on a Department of Labor Web site before submitting an H-1B application. In addition, the bill would give the Department of Labor a mandate to conduct random audits of any company that uses the H-1B program and would require annual audits of companies with over 100 employees and with 15 percent or more of those workers on H-1B visas.