Microsoft tops U.S. companies on H-1B visas

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.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Fri, Mar 6, 2009 Colleen

> Now what? How About Advertising the job so that US Citizens can apply ?

Thu, Mar 5, 2009 Rob Virginia

I won't slam Microsoft, since Infosys has more than 4x as many H-1B visas. Infosyst is an India company, so they would rather bring over someone from India as a "reward" & also to avoid that person job jumping around in India and lose the talent. The cost might be the same as hiring an American worker (for travel, setup expenses, etc), but when that person returns to India, they will index their pay down and be more likely to keep that employee for life with a good set of job skills. Yes, ultimately in a recession of this size, there should be a hard review to limit these visas and put American workers to work. Let's see if the Democratic controlled congress will look out for America.

Wed, Mar 4, 2009 Tom Asbury Park

Cornyn and Pallone Bipartisanship: "Most of the legislators from the luncheon attended as well as a few
Senators such as Cornyn (R-TX).

Rep. Pallone, founder and co-chairman of the Congressional India Caucus,
addressed the group. Much to the disappointment of his audience Pallone
said that they should not expect any progress on their immigration issues
until after 2009. He said the debate is too politically heated to make
progress. This was a stunning admission from a politician that has accepted
generous amounts of cash donations from many of those who were sitting in
the crowd. Pallone must have been biting his tongue when he confessed that
he failed to deliver the goods!

Senator Cornyn didn't offer the crowd comfort either -- he echoed what
Pallone said. Cornyn complained that many of his colleagues have suffered
politically following fax and phone call blitzes to their offices by angry
voters. Cornyn must have been referring to various fax programs run by
groups such as NumbersUSA, FAIR, CAPS, JBS, and Washtech. Cornyn's
complaints should encourage and inspire all of you that have had doubts
about the efficacy of the fax programs that they do work and they are heard
on Capitol Hill.

Cornyn blabbered a lot about the need to "educate" the American public so
that they will accept more H-1B visas. That's quite funny because it seems
that there are at least a few Americans who are educated on the subject, as
evidenced by the fax blitzes that Cornyn whined about.

In conclusion, the Indian lobby groups probably didn't get much
satisfaction for their efforts on the H-1B and green card issues. They
still haven't won an increase, but on the other hand, the cap of 85,000 a
year (not including exempts) hasn't been reduced either. No meaningful
reforms that would help American workers such as the Pascrell bill have
been passed, and visas such as L-1 are still unlimited." From Americans for Legal Immigration Forum:

Wed, Mar 4, 2009 Bill USA

The claim by these businesses that there aren't enough skilled Americans to fill these positions doesn't pass the straight-face test. The bottom line is that they want indentured servants who are willing to work for peanuts while waiting for thier green cards. This is an affront to our tech industry and a cheap shot at the American skilled labor force.

Wed, Mar 4, 2009

I Agree with Jenny. !st stop admitting them in US. I am a part of these group who come to US to stusy and aspire a good job in future. My parents take loan to fund my US education as its expensive, and now when I am out...u are saying we wont have you. I though US was land of equal opportunity. Please dont make us spend our parents hard earned money if you dont want to work here. I think all boycott of H1 shoudl start here. Stop our admission or make it clear...that we wont employee you even you study here, so come at your own risk. Then only ur H1b isuue is justified, republican politicians who said that are being unfair...wake up and give us justice MR OBAMA

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