Saturday, January 9, 2010

Raising H-1b cap will accelerate loss of U.S. jobs and technology to India

Reporting from Mumbai India, Anand Giridharadas' article "Outsourcers corner market for U.S. skilled worker visas" (International Herald Tribune, April 12, 2007) explains how the H-1b visa is "now a critical tool for Indian outsourcing vendors to gain expertise and win contracts from Western companies to transfer critical operations to places like Bangalore."

"It has become the outsourcing visa," the Indian commerce minister, Kamal Nath, said by telephone this week while attending global trade talks in New Delhi, at which India is pushing the United States for a larger H-1B quota.

"If at one point you had X amount of outsourcing," he said, "and now you have a much higher quantum of outsourcing, you need that many more visas."

Last year eight of the 10 largest H-1B applicants were outsourcing firms with major operations in India. U.S. SEC filings reveal that Infosys alone had 6,800 U.S. employees on H-1Bs as of September 2006. In 1998, the figure was 231.

Tata Consultancy Services sent Atul Pevekar to Minnesota on an H-1B. His assignment: to work with a U.S. retailer to relay its information technology needs back to TCS's Indian staff, to which the retailer has outsourced scores of jobs. "I am a link between the people who are doing coding in India and the client."

Losing jobs and technology to India is not in the best interests of the U.S. or of U.S. citizens. Congress needs to suspend the H-1b program now.