Fact Sheet | Immigration

Outsourcers top the list of companies seeking high-skilled guestworkers in Silicon Valley and across California: Snapshot analysis of California H-1B visa use

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By Jobs With Justice and the Economic Policy Institute

New analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data suggests that the leading users of the H-1B high-skilled guestworker visa program in Silicon Valley, and across California, are companies that essentially act as temporary staffing agencies. These companies make permanent work insecure and routinely facilitate the outsourcing of good, skilled jobs to lower-wage labor markets. In fiscal year 2015, three of the top five companies filing Labor Condition Applications1 for work in Silicon Valley—the first step in hiring a temporary foreign worker using an H-1B visa—were companies with business models that rely heavily on subcontracting and offshoring arrangements. The nine outsourcing companies that receive the largest numbers of H-1B visas nationally2 made up nearly one-fifth (18 percent) of Silicon Valley’s 138,594 requests for H-1B workers in fiscal year 2015. While the H-1B program allows employers to sponsor guestworkers to access citizenship, these companies rarely sponsor H-1B employees for lawful permanent residence in the United States.3

Top five companies filing H-1B labor condition application (LCA) requests for Silicon Valley–based employment, FY 2015

Employer Industry Total requested workers Significant outsourcing/offshoring
Deloitte & Touche Accounting/financial Services 11,044
Apple Inc. Technology 8,756
Wipro Ltd. IT consulting 4,755
Infosys Ltd. IT consulting 4,275
Synopsys Inc. Software products 4,166

Note: Silicon Valley is defined as Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Alameda Counties. "Total requested workers" includes certified LCAs for subsidiaries and related businesses. Due to errors and omissions associated with administrative data, results should be interpreted as conservative estimates.

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Companies that use the U.S. immigration system to facilitate outsourcing and offshoring have an even more dominant presence across the rest of California. In fiscal year 2015, eight of the top 10 companies filing LCA requests for H-1B work in California were outsourcing companies. The considerable share of requests suggests that these companies rely on H-1B visas to enable subcontracting arrangements that lower standards, depress wages, and make jobs less secure for working people in California. For example, in 2015 Southern California Edison4 laid off hundreds of employees and then contracted with two temporary staffing agencies that hired H-1B guestworkers to do the same work, but paid them an average of $40,000 less per year.5

Top 10 companies filing H-1B labor condition application (LCA) requests for California-based employment, FY 2015

Employer Industry Total Requested Workers Significant Outsourcing/offshoring
Deloitte & Touche Accounting/financial services 20,190
Apple Inc. Technology 8,769
Wipro Ltd. IT consulting 6,956
Cognizant Tech Solutions IT consulting 6,790
Infosys Ltd. IT consulting 6,619
Synopsys Inc. Software products 4,497
Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. IT consulting 4,311
PricewaterhouseCoopers Accounting/financial services 4,203
Mindtree Ltd. IT consulting 3,505
Igate Technologies Inc. IT consulting 3,330

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1. Companies wanting to hire higher-skilled guestworkers must first receive a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the U.S. Department of Labor. Not every certified LCA application will necessarily become a hired guestworker, but the absence of more precise publicly available government data makes LCA certifications the best proxy to measure guestworker employment.

2. As determined by total approved I-129 Petitions, fiscal 2010–12. Companies include Cognizant Tech Solutions, Infosys Ltd., Wipro Ltd., Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Accenture, IBM Corporation, Deloitte & Touche, Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd., and HCL America Inc. See “The Impact of the H-1B Temporary Nonimmigrant Visa Program on Workers, Graduates, & the U.S. Labor Market,” Jobs With Justice.

3. Ron Hira, Bridge to Immigration or Cheap Temporary Labor? The H-1B & L-1 Visa Programs Are A Source of Both. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute, February 17, 2010. Also Ron Hira, “Top 10 Users of H-1B Guest Worker Program Are All Offshore Outsourcing Firms,” Working Economics (Economic Policy Institute blog).

4. Patrick Thibodeau, “Southern California Edison IT workers ‘beyond furious’ over H-1B replacements,” Computerworld, February 4, 2015.

5. Ron Hira, “New Data Show How Firms Like Infosys and Tata Abuse the H-1B Program,” Working Economics (Economic Policy Institute blog), February 19, 2015.

See related work on Immigration | Work visas