Bloomberg Businessweek: Infosys Hiring Americans to Hedge Immigration Risks19 Nov 2010
It’s no secret. Work visas are getting harder to come by for thousands of H1B and L-1 visa applicants, who now face stiff new fees of $2,000 (for H1B visas) or $2,250 (for L-1 visas), if their prospective employers employ 50 or more workers in the United States, and more than 50 percent of those employees are H1B or L-1 workers. It’s also no secret that the targets of these new fees are Indian IT companies and their employees.
As we noted in a recent MurthyDotCom article, “Several different media outlets have reported that employees of the U.S. Senate have stated that these increased fees would primarily affect four Indian-based companies: Tata Consultancy, Wipro Ltd., Infosys Technologies Ltd., and Mahindra Systems.” (See Substantially Increased Fees for Certain H1Bs/L-1s, MurthyDotCom, 20.Aug.2010.)
According to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek, Infosys Technologies has decided to hedge its bets by hiring more U.S. citizens “to overcome the risks from changes in the nation’s visa policy,” and make it “easier for us to do consulting kind of work,” Infosys Chief Executive Officer S. Gopalakrishnan told Businessweek. (See Infosys to Hire More U.S. Citizens to Overcome Work Visa Risks, by Jun Yang, Bloomberg Businessweek, 10.Nov.2010.) As the Businessweek article explains:
“India’s software services companies that win outsourcing contracts need U.S. visas as some customers ask for onsite staff to work as coordinators and provide technical support. Pending immigration legislation in the U.S. Congress includes a bill to make it harder for employers to obtain the skilled worker visas by adding new requirements, fees, and penalties.”
As a result, reports Businessweek, Infosys now says it plans to hire as many as 250 American citizens per quarter to ensure it will have sufficient staffing to meet its contract obligations in the United States. Infosys CEO Gopalakrishnan also noted that the company plans to refocus and diversify its overseas IT business, so that it will be less dependent on the North American market. According to Businessweek, representatives of the Indian IT industry met with President Obama during his visit to India, urging him to block any further immigration restrictions that would hurt Indian IT companies and their employees. Given the political and economic situation in the United States, it seems likely that Indian IT firms will have quite a bit more lobbying to do to get their point across.