IT Reshoring News

May 11, 2017

Indian IT Industry Tries to Defend Its H-1B Practices with Inaccurate Claims

Trump officials claim Indian companies take “the lion’s share” of H-1B visas yearly. The Indian IT industry denies it. We analyze the numbers to see who's telling the truth.

Indian IT is in a tit-for-tat with the Trump Administration.

On April 17, a Trump official (portrayed as “The US” by the India Economic Times) accused major Indian IT companies like Tata & InfoSys of gaming the H-1B system.

“You may know their names well, but like the top recipients of the H1B visa are companies like Tata, Infosys, Cognizant—they will apply for a very large number of visas, more than they get, by putting extra tickets in the lottery raffle, if you will, and then they’ll get the lion’s share of visas. Which is very different than I think how most people think of the H1B program—they imagine it for more—being for—again, they would think of it as being for skilled domestic work, rather than contract work.”

Full text of briefing: Background Briefing on Buy American, Hire American Executive Order (April 17, 2017)—Office of the Press Secretary

In response, NASSCOM—the representative body for the Indian IT industry—said the accusations are inaccurate.

“In FY 2015, only six of the top 20 H-1B recipients were Indian companies. India only got 8.8 percent of the total approved H-1B visas [in FY 2015].”

So who’s right?  A check of publicly-available information will tell the tale.

What the Numbers Say:  The NASSCOM Statement Is the Inaccurate One

This statement has two parts.  First, the "Only six of the top 20 H-1B recipients were Indian companies" line.

Incorrect.  Of the top 20 companies listed on MyVisaJobs for FY 2015, 9 are India-based or India-controlled:  Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, HCL America, Tech Mahindra (Americas), Larsen & Toubro Infotech, Igate Technologies, Cognizant Technology Solutions, and Ust Global.

They're avoiding the classification by leaving out companies with US locations, but controlled from India.

Next, the “India only got 8.8% of the total approved H-1B visas” claim.  Using the MyVisaJobs data, we see:

  • Total number of H-1B visas certified for the 9 above-listed companies: 65,511
  • Total number approved (all companies): 275,317 (from a USCIS annual report PDF)
  • Percentage of H-1B visas taken by India-controlled companies:  23.8%

Not even close to 8.8%.

2016's visa numbers are even higher: 87,693 visas certified. The total number approved isn’t available yet, according to USCIS. But if they're anything like 2015's, then you're looking at the same percentage, or even higher.

Indian IT is on the Defensive, Which Benefits the U.S. IT Worker

Why this stretching of truth?  Simple. They’re on the defensive.

From the same article as NASSCOM’s statement: “India has been bracing for the impact of Mr Trump’s plans to change regulations for H-1B visas…”

We’re beginning to see those now.  Closing the fast-track process.  The Executive Order on “Buy American, Hire American.”  Companies like Tata and InfoSys stand to lose quite a lot of money.  Money gained by displacing U.S. IT workers.

What do you think? Is the new administration unfairly targeting H-1Bs, or are these the contentious first steps needed for real reform?