India-based technology company Infosys said Tuesday it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States, growing its American footprint at a time when it has become a political target in the U.S.
Infosys has been a big user of H1-B visas in the U.S., a program under which overseas firms, most often technology companies, move foreign workers to the United States after the overseas businesses declare they cannot find enough qualified U.S. workers. Critics of the visa program say the foreign firms have cost U.S. workers their jobs, however, because the foreign companies usually pay the temporary workers less than they would have had to pay American employees to do the same job.
As part of his "America First" pledge, President Donald Trump recently ordered government agencies to review the visa program. Trump said he wants to bring in the "best and brightest" foreign workers and reform immigration laws as they relate to work and border security. But one suggested reform - that companies paying the highest wages be granted the work visas - would directly affect Infosys.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which manages the visa petitions, says that about 70 percent of the 85,000 H1-B visas issued annually go to Indians, and more than half of them are working for information technology companies like Infosys, which then outsource the workers to American firms.
Infosys has been one of the biggest users of the H1-B visa program, sending more than 15,000 workers to the U.S. in the last two years, although it has trimmed its visa requests for this year. Under the program, foreign-born workers typically can be employed for three years by a sponsor company and apply to stay longer.
Infosys said it would hire the 10,000 U.S. workers over the next two years, opening four technology centers, with the first in the midwestern state of Indiana, where Vice President Mike Pence was governor before Trump tapped him as his running mate in last year's national political campaign.
Infosys chief executive Vishal Sikka told Reuters, "The reality is, bringing in local talent and mixing that with the best of global talent in the times we are living in and the times we're entering, is the right thing to do. It is independent of the regulations and the visas."