TCS, Infosys, Cognizant accused by US of violating H-1B visa rules
US government official accuses of misusing the lottery system for H-1B visas by putting in extra applicants for the scheme.
The US has accused Indian IT companies Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys of violating H-1B visa norms. Apart from these two companies it also named US firm Cognizant of violating the H-1B visa norms.
These IT firms have been accused of unfairly cornering the lion's share of H-1B visas by putting extra tickets in the lottery system. The Trump administration now wants to replace this system with a more merit-based immigration policy.
At a White House briefing last week, an official in the Trump administration said a small number of giant outsourcing firms flood the system with applications which naturally ups their chances of success in the lottery draw, according to a PTI report.
“You may know their names well, but like the top recipients of the H-1B visa are companies like Tata, Infosys, Cognizant -- they will apply for a very large number of visas, more than they get, by putting extra tickets in the lottery raffle, if you will, and then they'll get the lion's share of visas,” the senior official said, according to transcript of the briefing posted on White House website.
In a response to a follow up on why Indian companies are singled out to be mentioned, the White House response said that TCS, Infosys and Cognizant were the top three recipients of H-1B visas.
The official further said that the three companies are companies that have an average wage for H-1B visas between $60,000 and $65,000 a year and by contrast, the median Silicon Valley software engineer's wage is around $150,000.
He said contracting firms that are not skills employers, who oftentimes use workers for entry-level positions, capture the lion's share of H-1B visas.
The three firms refused to comment on the US administration comment, the report said.
H-1B visas presently were awarded through random lottery with about 80% of H-1B workers being paid less than the median wage in their fields, said the official. Only about 5-6%, depending on the year, of H-1B visa holders have the highest wage tier recognised by the Department of Labour, he added.
He said workers are often brought in well below market rates to replace US workers, again, sort of violating the principle of the programme, which is supposed to be a means for bringing in skilled labour.
The official said that if the current system that awards visas randomly without regard for skill or wage is changed to a skills-based awarding, it would make it extremely difficult to use the visa to replace or undercut US workers.
"Because you're not bringing in workers at beneath the market wage. And so it's a very elegant way of solving very systemic problems in the H-1B guest worker visa," the official said.