The United States has accused Indian Information Technology giants Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Cognizant of getting the maximum number of H-1B visas by putting in the most number of entries into the lottery system that generates the visas, PTI reported on Sunday. Two days before President Donald Trump signed an executive order introducing changes to the H-1B temporary visa scheme, the White House on April 17 put up a press briefing on its website in which a senior administrative official accused the Indian firms of misusing the lottery system which “randomly” awards the coveted visas.
“[S]o some companies oftentimes are called outsourcing firms. You may know their names well, but like the top recipients of the H-1B 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,” the official is quoted as saying in the press briefing.
“And those three companies are companies that have an average wage for H-1B visas between USD 60,000 and USD 65,000 (a year). By contrast, the median Silicon Valley software engineer’s wage is probably around USD 150,000,” the official said.
The official added that about 80% of H-1B workers were paid less than the median wage in their fields. “Only about 5 to 6%, depending on the year, of H-1B workers command the highest wage tier recognised by the Department of Labour, there being four wage tiers. And the highest wage tier, for instance, in 2015, was only 5% of H-1B workers,” the official said.
The new executive order signed by Trump on April 19, which is informally being called the “Buy American, Hire American” order, asks the four federal departments of labour, justice, homeland security and state to crack down on alleged “fraud and abuse” in the immigration system in order to protect American workers. It urges these departments to propose reforms to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid applicant.