India expected to corner new H-1B visa applications

(Photo: Infosys Ltd.)Infosys Ltd. corporate offices in Bangalore, India

The US government sees heavy demand for H-1B visa applications for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. It began accepting applications for the visa on April 1 and expects these visas to be eagerly snapped up within this week.

Data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services show that the largest users of H-1B visas are offshore outsourcing firms, especially those based in India.

The US makes 65,000 H-1B visas available each fiscal year under its base cap. An additional 20,000 visas are set aside for advanced degree graduates of US universities. The H-1B is a six-year visa.

IT services firms among the top 20 H-1B users accounted for over 50% of the annual base visa cap of 65,000. This is for initial visas approved in FY 2013 and not renewals. This percentage excludes some top 20 H-1B users such as Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Amazon, Google and Oracle.

The two largest H-1B users are two large IT services corporations headquartered in India: Infosys (India's third largest IT services company) with 6,298 visas, and Tata Consultancy Services, Ltd (India's largest IT services company), with 6,258 visas.

The third largest user is Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation, which is based in New Jersey, but runs large offshore centers. 

These firms have long dominated the top H-1B list spots, confirming a long-standing trend that has seen IT services firms consistently being the largest visa users year after year. IT service firms use H-1B workers in offshore outsourcing contracts.

The tech industry argues that there is a skills shortage in the US that justifies the need for H-1B visas. The claim of a skills shortage is disputed, however.

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