American multinationals such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook received the lion’s share of the approved H1B visa petitions in 2017, with Indian IT companies losing their previous stronghold in the area.
Both Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys saw more than a 50% decline in the number of approved petitions, according to an analysis of government data by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP).
Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon saw a stunning 78% increase in visa approvals, taking it to 2,515 in total, while Uber won a small piece in the pie, with 158 approvals.
Applications from Indian companies have declined significantly, as the Donald Trump administration has imposed several restrictions on the visa program, making the application process more arduous, costing more time and money.
The news confirms that there is a great hunger for foreign skilled workers, especially among large US tech companies. An easy availability of talent is vital to the success of most of the H1B employers, because they are investing billions of dollars in research and development (R&D).
In 2017, Amazon spent almost US$23 billion on R&D, followed by Alphabet (Google) with US$16.6 billion, Intel with US$13.1 billion, Microsoft with US$12.3 billion, Apple with US$11.6 billion and Facebook with US$7.8 billion.
Regardless of what tech analysts argue, the H1B visa program has become a political hot potato, with several lawmakers repeatedly threatening to scrap it.
In its report, the NFAP has said that the data “undermine the argument that the federal government should impose new restrictions” on the visa program, adding that the “visas are important as they are typically the only practical way a high-skilled foreign national working abroad or an international student educated in the United States can work long-term in America.”
In spite of the hue and cry, the demand for work permits has remained as robust as ever. Even non-tech companies, like General Motors and Tesla, are bidding for H1B visas year after year.