DJ H-1B Overhaul Pressures Outsourcing Firms and Their U.S. Clients
By Angus Loten
The Trump administration's overhaul of the H-1B visa program for highly skilled foreign tech workers will pressure the business model of companies that make low-cost tech workers from India and elsewhere available in the U.S.
The visas are especially prized by technology firms and information-technology departments at a range of corporations.
The restrictions, announced Tuesday, require U.S. employers to pay H-1B workers higher wages, narrow the types of credentials needed for foreign job applicants to qualify and shorten the length of visas for certain contract workers.
Trump administration officials said the changes were necessary to protect American workers, whom the administration believes are being undercut by foreign workers on H-1B visas who are paid lower wages to perform similar jobs.
Demand for the visas is high. U.S. employers last year filed a total of 201,011 applications for H-1B visas, up from 190,098 in 2018, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In both years, the maximum number of visas was capped at 65,000, along with 20,000 set aside for highly qualified applicants with advanced degrees in science, engineering and IT, among other fields. The caps remain the same for the current fiscal year.
German industrial company Robert Bosch GmbH said it uses the H-1B visa program for its U.S. operations. The company said it is "still evaluating the full impact of the latest changes," adding, "liberties such as the free movement of vetted people across borders is an integral part of creating a stable business environment."
While some corporations hire H-1B visa holders directly, others tap their labor through business services companies such as Accenture PLC, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. and Infosys Ltd. These business services firms will be directly affected by the revisions in the visa program, industry experts say.
Accenture and Infosys declined to comment. Cognizant didn't respond to a request for comment.
Outsourcing companies arbitrage the labor price between companies in India, the Philippines and other places with the cost of labor in the U.S., according to Brian Kropp, chief of research for consultant Gartner Inc.'s human resources practice. They are able to offer a relatively similar service at a more efficient cost, according to Mr. Kropp.
"This harms those organizations' abilities to arbitrage labor costs. There will be net fewer projects. And the projects that get done will be at a higher price," he said. "It's a drag on business." Lower-end projects such as routine software updates might be dropped, or executed by artificial intelligence agents instead of human labor, he said.
More profitable projects, such as "the next generation of technology, the next big AI model," will still make economic sense for outsourcing companies, Mr. Kropp said.
Access to a larger pool of skilled tech workers has helped U.S. firms drive innovation and growth, said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The board of the Washington-based tech policy think tank includes representatives from Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other large tech firms. "Trump to me is taking a sledgehammer to an issue that needs a scalpel," he said.
"Access to foreign talent is critical for the recovery and growth of all sectors of the U.S. economy," said Alvina Antar, chief information officer at cloud identity-management company Okta Inc.
Charlie Giancarlo, chief executive of Pure Storage Inc., which sells systems for storing corporate data, said workers on H-1B visas are a crucial part of the company's team. "Without their contributions, the American tech sector would not be at the cutting edge of innovation," he said.
Steve Yale-Loehr, a Cornell University Law School professor who specializes in immigration law, said companies might opt to avoid the costs associated with more frequent visa renewals or higher wages by establishing offices in other countries such as Canada, to access overseas tech talent.
"As the immigration regime in the United States over the last 3 1/2 years has gotten more restrictive, more companies are thinking about offshoring some positions, or research or manufacturing plants," Mr. Yale-Loehr said.
--Sara Castellanos, Jared Council and Steven Rosenbush contributed to this article.
Write to Angus Loten at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 08, 2020 05:30 ET (09:30 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
德国工业公司罗伯特·博世公司(Robert Bosch GmbH)表示，该公司在美国的业务使用H-1B签证计划。该公司表示，“仍在评估最新变化的全面影响”，并补充说，“像经过审查的人员跨境自由流动这样的自由，是创造稳定的商业环境不可或缺的一部分。”
一些公司直接聘用H-1B签证持有者，而另一些公司则通过埃森哲(Accenture PLC)、Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp.和Infosys Ltd等商业服务公司招聘劳动力。业内专家表示，这些商业服务公司将直接受到签证计划修订的影响。
咨询公司高德纳公司(Gartner Inc.)人力资源业务研究主管布莱恩·克罗普(Brian Kropp)说，外包公司用美国的劳动力成本在印度、菲律宾和其他地方的公司之间套利劳动力价格。克罗普说，外包公司能够以更高效的成本提供相对类似的服务。
信息技术和创新基金会(Information Technology And Innovation Foundation)主席罗布·阿特金森(Rob Atkinson)表示，获得更多熟练技术工人的机会帮助美国公司推动了创新和增长。这家总部位于华盛顿的科技政策智库的董事会包括来自亚马逊(Amazon.com Inc.)、微软(Microsoft Corp.)和其他大型科技公司的代表。他说：“在我看来，特朗普是在拿着大锤解决一个需要手术刀的问题。”
云身份管理公司Okta Inc的首席信息官阿尔维娜·安塔尔(Alvina Antar)表示：“获得外国人才对于美国经济所有部门的复苏和增长至关重要。”
销售企业数据存储系统的Pure Storage Inc.首席执行长詹卡洛(Charlie Giancarlo)说，持H-1B签证的员工是公司团队中至关重要的一部分。“没有他们的贡献，美国的科技行业就不会处于创新的前沿，”他说。
专门研究移民法的康奈尔大学法学院(Cornell University Law School)教授史蒂夫·耶尔-勒尔(Steve Yale-Loehr)表示，公司可能会选择在加拿大等其他国家设立办事处，以获取海外科技人才，以避免更频繁的签证续签或更高工资带来的相关成本。
--Sara Castellanos，Jared Council和Steven RosenBush对本文有贡献。