Microsoft tops U.S. companies on H-1B visas
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Mar 03, 2009
Four Indian outsourcing companies, followed by Microsoft Corp., Accenture Ltd., Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc., received the largest share of available H-1B visas for skilled workers in 2008, according to the latest data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Large federal information technology contractors are among the beneficiaries of H-1B visas, which enable them to temporarily hire skilled foreign workers. Executives from Microsoft and other IT firms have lobbied for expansion of the program in past years to maintain American global competitiveness. However, U.S. IT employees have expressed concern about the program fearing that it might depress wages.
Microsoft Corp. was the leading U.S. company beneficiary of H-1B visas last year, getting approval for 1,037 visas in fiscal 2008 versus 962 in fiscal 2007 and 3,517 in fiscal 2006.
Accenture received approvals for 731 visas, up from 331 in fiscal 2007, and Cisco Systems Inc. received 422 visa approvals, up from 324 the year before. Cognizant received 467, a drop from 962 in fiscal 2007.
The top four Indian companies receiving the visas were Infosys Technologies Ltd., with 4,559 visas; Wipro Ltd., with 2,678 visas; Satyam Computer Services Ltd., with 1,917, and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., with 1,539.
Other recipients on the list include IBM India Private Ltd., with 381 visas; Intel Corp., with 351; Ernst and Young LLP, with 321; Qualcomm Inc., with 255; and KPMG LLP, with 245.
Applications for H-1B visas for fiscal 2009 are due on April 1. The total number of visas awarded annually under the program is capped at 65,000.
For the last two years, the demand for H-1B visas has exceeded supply. With the economic downturn, Microsoft and other IT companies have had layoffs and it is not clear what the effect will be on H-1B demand.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a critic of the H-1B visa program, suggested in February that Microsoft lay off H-1B visa holders before it gives pink slips to American workers during the recession. Microsoft announced on Jan. 22 that it would be laying off 5,000 employees, including 1,400 immediately.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.