Opponents of the tech industry’s beloved H-1B visas for skilled workers have long argued that outsourcing companies abuse the program, gobbling up the lion’s share of visas to provide cheaper foreign labor to U.S. companies.
Now they have new ammunition, thanks to an executive order from President Donald Trump.
The federal government has released data showing that while Apple, Google, Amazon and others pay H-1B workers relatively well, outsourcers haul in the vast majority of visas and pay the workers much less, according to a new report. One outsourcing company took more than 21,000 visas, nearly three times the number taken by Apple, Google and Amazon combined.
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The H-1B has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate. Revelations about U.S. workers having to train their outsourced replacements before being laid off, including at UC San Francisco, have added fuel to the fire.
In April, Trump issued his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, that promised rigorous enforcement of immigration laws. Under that order, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has just released data for the first time on numbers of visas granted per employer, and included the amount of pay, digital magazine Quartz reported.
The federal department said it was “working on a combination of rulemaking, policy memoranda, and operational changes to implement the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order.
“We are creating and carrying out these initiatives to protect the economic interests of U.S. workers and prevent fraud and abuse within the immigration system.”
The data cover 2015 and 2016, and show that 67 percent to 69 percent of H-1B visas were for computer-related jobs. About 70 percent of all the visas went to natives of India, according to the data.
In 2016, U.S. IT firm Cognizant swept up 21,459 of the visas, with outsourcing firms Infosys, Tata, Accenture and Wipro netting a total of 37,725.
Amazon, Google and Apple took a combined 7,248.
Those three tech firms paid their H-1B workers substantially more than the $91,000 average, with Apple paying an average of $139,000, Google an average of $132,ooo and Amazon an average of $115,ooo.
The major outsourcers paid considerably less than the average, with Infosys and Cognizant paying $84,000, Wipro paying $74,000 and Tata paying $72,000.
The data also suggests that the big tech companies are in general bringing in more highly skilled workers under the H-1B program compared to the outsourcing firms. About 60 percent of these tech companies’ H-1B workers had master’s degrees, while most brought in by outsourcers had only bachelor’s degrees, Quartz reported.
Photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks in front of a rendering of the company’s new “spaceship” headquarters during a product launch event in March 2016 at Apple in Cupertino. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Tags: amazon, Apple, Buy American, Cognizant, Donald Trump, Google, H-1B, Hire American, immigration, infosys, outsourcing, president, Tata, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, visa, Wipro