US firms generate five jobs for every H-1B visa issued

by CXOtoday staff    Jul 29, 2011

Robert Griefeld, the chief executive of NASDAQ, among the world’s largest stock exchange has claimed that US companies generate five jobs for every person who gets into the United States on an H-1B visa.

“Let me take the job stealing issue head-on,” NASDAQ CEO Robert Griefeld told Senators at a Congressional hearing on immigration reform early this week. “Opponents of enhanced legal immigration argue that when a foreign-born, highly skilled immigrant gets a job, American graduates are the losers,” he said.

“But my research and experience tell me quite a different story. For example, the National Federation for American Policy says that for every H-1B worker requested, US technology companies increase their overall employment by five workers,” Griefeld said.

The H-1B visa allows US companies to attract highly skilled professionals such as engineers, scientists or computer programmers to work in the country.

Indian software companies such as Infosys Technologies Ltd, Wipro Ltd and Tata Consultancy Services, and global technology firms such as Microsoft and IBM, have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the visa process. But the downturn in the US economy and concerns over local jobs has been a dampener and the US has restricted the total number of H-1B visas to 65,000 from the peak of 195,000 in 2001.

Last August, US doubled the fee for Indian software workers using the H-1B visas citing the money would be used to secure the border with Mexico, while increasing the restrictions on people entering America on company specific projects.

Interestingly, demand for the five-year visas that allow engineers to work on projects with an option to renew for another five, is declining as US companies look to outsource work to low cost countries such as India to cut costs. The quota of 65,000 H-1B visas for 2011 completed in January, eight months after the US opened the process.

Infosys is facing a lawsuit from a former employee Jack Palmer of violating visa rules and finding a creative way to get around the H-1B visa. The company has dismissed the allegations.

India’s foreign minister S M Krishna early this month asked US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ease visa regulations that have adversely affected Indian IT industry.

“I also took the opportunity to convey to Secretary Clinton the concerns of our IT companies in sending their professionals to execute projects and conduct business in the United States. I highlighted that Indian IT companies are contributing to the US economy through investments, employment and supporting US competitiveness,” Krishna said.