Indian IT giant, Infosys, is stepping up its recruitment of American workers in a bid to reduce its dependence on H-1B, L-1A and L-1B visas. The Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore) based IT firm says it wants to 'create a stronger base closer to customers,' according to a report published by the Business Standard.
It seems that Infosys is doing this because of increasing difficulties in obtaining H-1B and L-1 visas and due to political pressure (politicians such as Donald Trump have accused Indian IT companies of replacing US workers with cheap labor). According to recent data, for the 2016 fiscal year (FY2016) Infosys hired 2,144 local workers across North and South America, the highest in these regions so far.
As of the end of 2014-15, this number represented more than a quarter of Infosys' workforce in these regions, and is considered the largest addition of local workers by Infosys in North and South America.
US a major market for Indian IT enterprises
The US accounts for more than 60 percent of total IT exports from India, with Infosys, Tata Consultancy and Wipro having a major presence across the US. Sources at Infosys say that their employee base consists of American workers as well as employment-based green card holders.
To some extent, Infosys has been forced to hire more US workers as temporary US business visas, including the H-1B and L-1 category visas, become more difficult to obtain. The H-1B visa quota is not sufficient to meet demand. There is a high refusal rate for applications for Indians under the L-1 visa scheme. The current presidential election campaign has added further pressure on Indian IT companies to recruit domestically as some politicians have made negative statements about the hiring of foreign workers in order to attract votes from anti-immigration voters amongst the US public.
Chief executive officer of Infosys, Vishal Sikka, said: "We continue to be influenced by the visa issue situation. Our view is to become independent of H-1B and L-1 visas and hire locally."
Sikka went onto state that he wants to see Infosys become 'visa and location-independent through local hiring and collaborative technology.'
Most of 23,594 Infosys employees in the US on US work visas
Figures for FY2016 show that Infosys had a total of 23,594 employees based in the US, most of whom had entered the country on business visas. The company's annual report stated that those on work visas included 11,659 of its employees in the US on H-1B visas, and 1,364 on L-1B visas.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, which permits an employee to remain in the US for a period of up to six years, to work for a specific employer L-1 category visas allow an employee to stay in the US for a maximum period of five years as a L-1B specialized knowledge worker and up to seven years as an L-1A manager or executive.
Infosys increased hiring in other parts of the world
Infosys is also recruiting aggressively across Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle-East. By the end of 2015-16, Infosys had 21,403 personnel located outside of India, which represents 11 percent of its employee base. At the end of 2014-15, 9.95 percent of Infosys' workforce were based outside of India.
According to the Business Standard report, Infosys is not the only Indian IT firm aiming to boost the number of US workers it hires. The report says that 'most of the Indian and offshore-centric IT services companies are increasingly looking at hiring local staff in the US.' India's third-largest IT services exporter, Wipro, is one of them.
Abidali Neemuchwala, Wipro's CEO, stated that the company is moving forward with plans to hire more local employees in onsite locations, rather than transferring people from India. He said:"Earlier we were sending lots of people from India to work onsite, which is changing by locally hiring onsite. Even though hiring will continue, the number of people hiring in India will be lower."
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