29 thoughts on “H1-B Visas and Companies Like Infosys

  1. Do you think that people in US govt doesn’t know this already?

    This is the trend started by American companies. Cheap labor for industrial work to China & Cheap IT labor from India. Indian companies have followed the suit. I am not saying what they do is OK.

    Laws are made in a way to be played with & senators get kickbacks for turning a blind eye. Isn’t it ironic that people who fight on both sides are individuals? i.e American IT crowd who lost the job vs Indian IT crowd.

    Indians are hired instead of Americans, because it is cheap. Period.
    Aren’t the people played over by government & companies here?

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  2. The report is on the B1 visa misuse (and that may cause a problem to Infosys)…your title is misleading..usage of H1 visas is completely above board…one can question the visa itself but there is nothing illegal there…anyway the Indian IT companies have grown big and rich and are moving focus on hiring of locals…message has gone down the ranks that the old onsite option is gone and emphasis will only grow on local hiring…

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  3. @abhijit . Rubbish . Infosys and the likes are paying some 55000$ . Which qualified individual other than a desperate Indian would fall for that amount ? !

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  4. I don’t deny that B1 visa is abused and that given the ambiguity surrounding definition of “work”, companies legally flout the rules. But I fail to understand how not abusing it will help US employment, unless companies are willing to hire non IT people & willing to train them. The unemployment issue is relevant only if there is data to show that many software developers are unable to find work. I don’t believe that it the case.

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  5. Well, Infosys misusing the B1 visas might be true but the fact that companies don’t hire Americans and/or companies are not interested is total bovine fecal matter.

    I am a student in a university in the midwest and pretty much every American who studies science, engineering and/or something employable gets a job. However, most people who enroll in my university want to study liberal arts i.e. psychology, music appreciation, gardening psychology (ok, I just made the last one up). I don’t mean to say that these are easy topics to study but just that they are not something that the industry would find useful. No wonder most of them flip burgers at McDonalds after getting a BA in liberal arts. To cut things short, any American who studies something that can be useful in the industry gets a job. Wonder what this lady is speaking about.

    I think the problems are manifold here. There is a large workforce, yes. A lot of them are facing unemployment, yes. Just because people are out of jobs does not necessarily mean that you can hire them in skilled jobs. You cannot hire a PhD in English to do a software testing job.

    And, whatever that lady said about jobs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (probably was referring to Rockwell Collins?), Troy, Michigan (referring to the auto majors?) and so on which are open only to OPT and H1-B people is total nonsense. From a company’s perspective, it costs them shitloads of money to hire a foreign national to pay legal fees and various sundry stuff. They would rather hire an American if he is easily available to do such a job.

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  6. Believe it or not outsourcing has got just a few years life left in it.there is a large anti outsouring movement in USA/Europe and it will be matter of short time when it will be banned.

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  7. The Dan Rather report rightly points out the hypocrisy in the “powered by intellect and driven by values” motto of Infosys. Infosys would be better off drawing a firm line at “Your tomorrow today” or “building tomorrow’s enterprise” than harp on “values” in their mission statement, only to engage in shady, illegal behavior. Dan Rather should have worked harder to get a statement/interview from Narayana Murthy, that “principled” software hero who founded the company. The B-1 charade was in full swing even when he was at the helm.

    Having said that, Infosys is just one among several companies that exploit the B1 loop hole. It does not absolve them of the illegality; but it does not mean they are the only folks doing it either. Rather and the lady do mention this towards the end of the segment.

    But nothing is going to really change. At worst, Infosys and their competition, who have all been doing this for years, will be slapped with fines to fund the insolvent government. Infosys and their cohorts will stop B-1 visas after this and exploit some other loophole which will emerge courtesy the industry lobbyists. All this is infinitesimal in its destruction of the American economy compared to the Wall Street shell game. The fines are orders of magnitude higher there as are the real consequences. As usual, India plays only a bit role!

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  8. @Everyone – take this from an insider for 13 years, things are changing rapidly. Indian IT companies had to start at the bottom, do bit jobs that no one wanted, build bit by bit all the while accumulating money and training their people on skills…yes the companies employed “desperate” Indians, but we were that till the 90s werent we, that also made us hungry…you cannot start doing hi tech work from day one, you make money then invest into bigger things…that is precisely what has happened over the years..there are skills we have now that clients dont and they ask for their people to be trained from us…most of the IT companies have IP (on latest stuff like mobile banking for e.g., you will argue that these have been mooched since the basic assumption is that Indians cannot build) that they are able to sell to clients…each of these companies have built consulting arms which hire pretty senior locals from industry at salaries higher than local companies and these are form our front ends…the realization has set in long back that visas will be tough to get and unpopular so pricing models are changing to have locals on board at comparable salaries. Isnt this how the Japanese grew as well?
    So disparage them all you want, it doesnt matter…they are business entities and will do what they have to survive and grow..I wont argue with anyone of you, these are the facts as I narrate from the inside…we committed ourselves to nation building through creating “Indian” companies and that is what we are doing…never mind the brickbats.

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  9. While pointing fingers at Infosys, do these people realize that their beloved American companies like Microsoft are also hiring Boatloads (or jetloads) of B1s to work for them?

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  10. Why such harsh words for INdian H1B workers when shifting the manufacturing to China in the early 90’s caused many Americans to lose their job? Corporate America screws everybody including their own people with full support of the govt.

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  11. The problem is that H1B was meant for “highly” skilled workers and for openings where Americans are not available. The definition of what is highly skilled has moved on. What Infosys and Indian IT companies do can be done by anybody with a couple of months training (if needed and at most). I think the definition of highly skilled needs to be updated to reflect the progress over the last couple of decades. There are all kinds of parasites (I’m not thinking of Infosys particularly but all the various body shopping and Indian consulting companies that take up contract work in the US) with doctored resumes that land up in the US and take advantage of the visa program. I call them parasites because they have no regard for the country even though they are feeding off of it and 90% of their revenues comes from these countries! I’m amazed by their cognitive dissonance!

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  12. As an example, Canada has stopped accepting IT professionals (unless they are managers) in their permanent resident immigration program from last year. Ofcourse anyone can prove oneself to be in a “managerial” position, but that’s a different matter.

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  13. @Abhijit: “So disparage them all you want, it doesnt matter” — very true. Most entities criticized on this blog—like politicians, body odor, Infosys—care not a rat’s ass. I don’t want to blow my cover but I have plenty of insider perspective as well. Infosys is not a high tech company. I just said the press made a mistake in calling them so. Why are you so defensive? There’s nothing wrong with not being a high tech company, or selling bhaji, or sweeping streets. Selling bhaji or sweeping streets “builds the nation” too, whatever the kufc that means in a “nation” where lakh-crore scams go unpunished.

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  14. The misuses of B1 visa is very common. Before Visa interviews all the yuppies are told not to utter the word “work” in the interview just keep saying meetings and requirement gathering.

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  15. Full disclosure:

    I am an ex-employee of Infosys. I was with the company for more than 3.5 years and left the job over 10 years ago. I do not own stock or anything else that would profit me if Infosys does well now.

    What’s left out of the video is more interesting than what is shown. During my time, most, if not all B-1s that visited the US were people in a consulting/lead role. They would typically learn about the systems and take that learning back to the offshore team. When they go back, they are billed at about 1/3 of their onsite rate (guess who saves money?). The core objective is really to participate in business meetings and any code written is typically for demo purposes. While it is true that some of the work is same as the one done by a H1B holder, a B1 holder is sent instead as it is sometimes hard to find someone with a H1B. In all my time with the company, I do not know of a single instance when anyone overstayed or broke any immigration law.

    I know the above paragraph sounds like a PR exercise but the video left out a lot. How many local employees can you find at a short notice who are willing to work for 3/6 weeks? And if they are indeed available, are they willing to relocate to India for a substantial period of time to work with the offshore team?

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  16. Atanu,

    There is always some amount of deceit involved as far as US immigration and visas are concerned. I am pretty sure that you must have told the visa officer that your intention was to come back to India as soon as you finish your MS degree, when you first went for US F1 visa interview, right? 😉 There is no way you would have been granted F1 visa if you had shown your immigration intention.

    Now see you stuck around, got a green card and then citizenship.

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  17. Many people of H-1 in the early 90’s used to get lost in usa once they got there, so indians IT companies started signing a bond with them i.e the employees they used to send on H-1 that did some what restrict that practice of people getting lost in usa.as rightly pointed by SB’ comment atanu himself and countless others who go to usa for so called “higher education” jump visa’s.that’s why there is a lot of checking for people of the sub continent when they go to get usa visa.

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  18. Another BS!!! I work in US and do visit other countries for work(?), its the same thing, fortunately no visa for most of the Western countries, but its illegal to work … no one tells the immigration guys you there for work, its always MEETINGS. How come you got coned by Dan Rathers, doesn’t he sound like Lou Dobbs brother?

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  19. Well, full disclosure: Currently an Indian student in a US business school, who went through the recruting process in US.

    The video is facile. It does not paint the full picture, hence provides a biased view.

    The fact: If companies can get local people for relevant jobs ( even if by paying a bit more than reasonable salaries) they would absolutely not recruit internationals. As someone pointed out, recruiting internationals are very expensive/ effort taking, which everyone wants to avoid. Very few companies recruit internationals ( if they get locals), even in Technology. For example, Intel a hi-tech company do not sponsor H-1Bs for their MBA rotational program ( there are hundreds such example).

    Do you know, not only US companies, even most non-US companies do not like to recruit internationals in US if they get local people. Unilever, Nestle, AB Inbev all European and they do not sponsor visa for non-tech roles.

    As Jatkesha has pointed out, there are not just enough relevant people available for the tech jobs. The “gravy-train” exists because there is a need for this train to run.

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  20. Infosys is a HiTech company just as much as a guy who learnt Java , C# , Stacks and Queues is a Computer Scientist . I’ve worked in companies where all the junk work used to be marked for hand to Infosys and the likes . No one can dispute the role of these companies in bringing wealth to India and some genuine nation building but one wonders at the invisible damage they do by reducing the average national IQ of the educated population .

    I think we can safely assume these companies misuse any visa they can get hold of ( it simply doesn’t matter whether the post was titled h1b or b1 ) .

    Top H1B Filings for FY2008 .
    I find it hard to believe that Infosys needed to ship across some 4559 “best and brightest” programmers from India to the US because of a shortage of such people in the US . Because I do have an idea about what people even remotely close to “best and brightest” would think of think of a job with Infosys – even if it was for their so called research unit , the SET Labs .

    1 INFOSYS TECHNOLOGIES LIMITED 4559
    2 WIPRO LIMITED 2678
    3 SATYAM COMPUTER SERVICES LIMITED 1917
    4 TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES LIMITED 1539
    5 MICROSOFT CORP 1037

    source: http://asiancorrespondent.com/578/top-200-h1b-employers-for-2008/

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  21. >> there are not just enough relevant people available for the tech jobs.

    yes, certainly not for the peanuts Infosys pays . Infosys and the likes pay highly experienced folk approximately half of what Google and Microsoft hand out to their fresh-out-of-college hires .

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  22. Well, a law broken is a law broken. I guess I would do the same as these activists if suddenly my work were to go to Thailand or China.

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  23. PrashB, you just cannot compare between Google/Apple/Microsoft and Infosys. Gross profit of Microsoft is $50B and they have about 100K employees. That comes to about $500K profit per employee per annum. For Infosys, their gross profit is $2B and they have 150K employees. The profit is approx $13K per employee. Ofcourse, one is a product company and the other one is a services company so its not a good comparison but nevertheless, the productivity difference is about 40X. An Infosys employee should be very happy with 0.5 of what a Microsoft employee makes. Just given the numbers, the difference should be more towards 40X, even if it may not be exactly that much because the profit is not shared equally among employees in either company.

    Interesting factoid: total revenues of Indian IT and BPO industry is $75B which is about the same as the total revenues of one US company – Apple. So, again, you cannot compare Apple to Infosys – there is a huge, huge difference. The projections are for the Indian IT industry to grow to $225B (3x) by 2020 (15% growth per annum).

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  24. “Infosys is a HiTech company just as much as a guy who learnt Java , C# , Stacks and Queues is a Computer Scientist.” — only members of the Indian “high tech” industry can emit non sequiturs like this one through the back orifice.

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  25. “Infosys is a HiTech company just as much as a guy who learnt Java , C# , Stacks and Queues is a Computer Scientist.”

    — umm, I was being sarcastic : )

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  26. The practises of Infosys will come to light through this case. But it will leave India’s pride hurt. There will be an appeal to patriotism, that “last refuge of the scoundrels”; the day is neigh.

    Meanwhile, this is what I frequently hear from some Narayana Murthy fans: “others are also doing it”, and that “you know he is doing the most good for India” ! Subtle enticements ! Flags will be out next !

    The problem with the Indian IT industry is that it engages in what is essentially a modern form of slave trade but doesn’t want to be called “body shops”. We don’t mind being butchers secretly, but would like to be only called Mahatmas !

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  27. This is all part of the deal. Big businesses exist that thrive on exploiting loopholes in the legal framework. This has happened since humanity existed, and will continue unless we have a Utopian system. The difference between work and non-work in the context of a B-1 visa has always been a grey area even though the official rules are clear. I’ve come across many cases where the consultant gets compensated for his B-1 consulting visit in the US after he gets back home to India.

    Also remember, many of these activists supporting American workers in the US have other agendas or political twists to their stories. Don’t just take them at face value, specially people like that woman featured on the video. They are experts in selectively filtering and manipulating data to further their cause while ignoring the whole unpalatable story.

    The big picture and root cause of this problem is far more complex and murkier. No single policy or trend can be singled out, it is a collection of decisions that has brought us here, consequently, there is no simple quick-fix for this problem.

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