Top 10 users of H-1B guest worker program are all offshore outsourcing firms

The H-1B ‘non-immigrant’ temporary foreign guest worker program is called a valuable tool for employers to attract and retain the “best and brightest” immigrants in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Because employers may petition for permanent residence for their H-1B employees, the visa is sometimes described as a “bridge to immigration” that will keep the smartest foreign STEM workers in the U.S. permanently and thus improve the nation’s competitiveness. In part that’s how Senators Hatch, Rubio, Coons and Klobuchar explain their new bill – known as the “I-Squared Act” – that would more than quadruple the size of the H-1B program.

However, for the biggest users of the program, this view is false: In 2012, the 10 employers receiving the largest number of H-1B visas were all in the business of outsourcing and offshoring high-tech American jobs. Many of the jobs that went to H-1B workers should have instead gone to U.S. workers, but employers are not required to recruit them before applying for an H-1B, and can even replace their U.S. workers with H-1Bs. The top 10 H-1B employers were granted an astonishing 40,170 visas; nearly half the total annual quota. The table also shows each firm’s immigration yield: the ratio of permanent residence applications to new H-1B petitions for these companies. It is evidence of the companies’ intention to hire and keep their H-1B workers in the country permanently.

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Immigration yield for top 10 H-1B employers, fiscal 2012

Rank Employer Approved initial I-129 petitions for H-1B PERM applications for H-1B workers Immigration yield Significant offshoring*
1 Cognizant 9,281 669 7% X
2 Tata 7,469 4 0% X
3 Infosys 5,600 21 0% X
4 Wipro 4,304 30 1% X
5 Accenture 4,037 8 0% X
6 HCL America 2,070 44 2% X
7 Tech Mahindra SATYAM 1,963 20 1% X
8 IBM & IBM India 1,846 96 5% X
9 Larsen & Toubro 1,932 15 1% X
10 Deloitte 1,668 260 16% X

* A significant component of this company's business model is offshore outsourcing.

Source: Author's analysis of PERM Disclosure Data, Office of Foreign Labor Certification, Department of Labor, fiscal 2012; and I-129 data by employer, USCIS, fiscal 2012

There are two reasons these firms hire H-1Bs instead of Americans: 1) an H-1B worker can legally be paid less than a U.S. worker in the same occupation and locality; and 2) the H-1B worker learns the job and then rotates back to the home country and takes the work with him. That’s why the H-1B was dubbed the “Outsourcing Visa” by the former Commerce Minister of India, Kamal Nath. Rather than keeping jobs from leaving our shores, the H-1B does the opposite, by facilitating offshoring and providing employers with cheap, temporary labor – while reducing job opportunities for American high-tech workers in the process. The I-Squared Act does nothing to protect against this, while vastly expanding the size of a deeply flawed program that accelerates the offshoring of American high-tech jobs and reduces America’s future capacity to innovate.

MORE: The full list of H-1B employers for 2012 is available from ComputerWorld.


  • Amosh Brien

    useful info for H_1B employers …

  • Legal Immigrant

    Ron – do your numbers above include H-1B renewals?

    • Aman Khanna

      That in this context is insignificant. As long as a person is on an H-1B, whether it is renewed or not, they are a temporary worker. Renewal of an H-1B is merely deferment of the termination of an employees tenure in the US and their return to their home country after a maximum of 7 years until they are sponsored for permanent residency. Until the percentage of PERM sponsorships, Ron’s inference that many of these firms are merely using the H-1B program in several instances to employe as temporary and cheap labor in roles that are eventually offshored, is still a valid argument.

  • Legal Immigrant

    Ron Hira – what do you mean by “significant offshoring”?

  • DC

    Legal Immigrant: To answer your question, these data *do not* include renewals. They only represent new (initial) successful H-1B petitions in FY2012.

  • The nature of the Beast

    an H-1B worker can NOT legally be paid less than a U.S. worker in the same occupation and locality. There is also research to show that hiring H-1B visa holders is actually associated with an increases in employment at US technology companies.

    • Patti

      Oh please. You can’t be that naive. A company can revoke sponsorship for any reason whatsoever. They know that and so does the employee. Employers have to pay the prevailing wage, but in some fields such as engineering it’s hard to define what the prevailing wage is. Also, there is NO requirement to give the highest annual raises to H1B employees.

      Employers know this. The employee knows this. The employer only has to hint that if the employee complains–about anything—they’ll yank the sponsorship.

      Wise up fella…

    • Patti

      Oh please. You can’t be that naive. A company can revoke sponsorship for any reason whatsoever. They know that and so does the employee. Employers have to pay the prevailing wage, but in some fields such as engineering it’s hard to define what the prevailing wage is. Also, there is NO requirement to give the highest annual raises to H1B employees.

      Employers know this. The employee knows this. The employer only has to hint that if the employee complains–about anything—they’ll yank the sponsorship.

      Wise up fella…