Even as the US government begins tightening rules around H-1B visas, Indian IT major Infosys said on Tuesday that it will hire 10,000 American workers over the next two years.
The move comes less than a month after the Donald Trump administration began enforcing stricter bureaucratic norms for issuing H-1B visas in order to prevent "fraud and abuse" in the programme. Over 50% of the total 85,000 H-1B visas that are granted are reportedly received by Indian IT workers.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the technology company said that it has also planned to set up four new technology and innovation hubs in the US. The first one will open in Indiana in August 2017 and is expected to create 2,000 jobs by 2021 for American workers.
"Infosys is committed to hiring 10,000 American technology workers over the next two years to help invent and deliver the digital futures for our clients in the US," said Vishal Sikka, Chief Executive Officer of Infosys.
These hubs will not only have technology and innovation focus areas, but will closely serve clients in key industries such as financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, retail, energy and more.
"It's so good to welcome Infosys to Indiana, and to expand our growing tech ecosystem with the addition of their estimated 2,000 Hoosier jobs," said Indiana Governor Eric J Holcomb.
While Infosys made no mention of the tightening of H-1B visa norms in its statement on the new jobs, Sikka told Bloomberg's Saritha Rai that the move had created a difficult year for Infosys in addition to the row over his salary hike, leading to a slump in their stocks.
"The whole thing has become quite complicated," Sikka told Rai.
Infosys has also been seeing a large drop in hiring, thanks to increasing automation and thrust on artificial intelligence in its operations and projects. A whopping 37,915 engineers left Infosys, while its hiring plunged 65% in the fiscal 2016-17.
TCS, Infosys got only 8.8% of H-1B visas, says Nasscom
Last month, a US official had accusing TCS and Infosys of unfairly cornering a majority of the H-1B visas, by pushing a large number of applications into the lottery system.
In response to the accusation, the Indian IT industry's apex organisation, NASSCOM, said that the two top companies had got only 8.8% of the H-1B visas for placement of workers in the United States.
"Of the six Indian IT companies, software majors TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) and Infosys received 7,504 H-1B visas in FY 2015, which is 8.8 per cent of the total H-1B visas," said the National Association of Software Services and Companies (NASSCOM) in a statement.
Only six Indian IT firms were among the top 20 recipients of the H-1B visas in fiscal 2015, said NASSCOM.
"Every reputable data source in the US has documented a growing shortfall between the supply and demand for computer science majors in the US workforce, especially in cutting-edge fields such as cloud, big data, and mobile computing," asserted NASSCOM.
The US Department of Labor estimates that there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs by 2018, with 50% of the vacancies in IT-related positions.
"Indian IT firms account for less than 20% of the H-1B visas; although Indian nationals get 71% of them, testifying to their high skill levels, especially in the very coveted STEM skills category," stressed Nasscom.
A Nasscom survey noted that the annual number of Indian IT specialists working on temporary visas for Indian IT service firms was 0.009% of the 158-million-member US workforce. It also found that the average wage for visa holders is $82,000 besides a fixed cost of $15,000 incurred on each visa, including its fee and related expenses.
"The average wage for visa holders is over 35 per cent higher than the minimum prescribed exempt wage of $60,000," pointed out the Nasscom statement.
Responding to queries on the issue, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that India is taking up its concerns with the US on the H-1B visa issue, and not in regard to individual companies.
"No one is questioning America's sovereign right to issue visas... we're only talking about their commitments made in their understanding with us on issuing visas to Indian professionals. There is no talk of individual companies," she said.
With IANS inputs