H1-B visa row: Wipro says more than 50% employees in US to be locals in Q1

Wipro Ltd expects locals to constitute more than half of its workforce in the US by June amid tightening of H1-B visa norms


The Indian IT industry contends that companies tend to bridge the skills gap by bringing in highly skilled professionals to temporarily work in the US on H-1B and other visas. . Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/ Mint
The Indian IT industry contends that companies tend to bridge the skills gap by bringing in highly skilled professionals to temporarily work in the US on H-1B and other visas. . Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/ Mint

Bengaluru: Wipro Ltd expects locals to constitute more than half of its workforce in the US by June as it continues to make “significant” investments in the American market amid tightening of H1-B visa norms.

Much like its peers Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys, Wipro has been ramping up hiring of locals and setting up delivery centres in the US to ensure business continuity for clients. “Our focus on localisation continues in all the key markets. In Q1, we expect to have more than 50 per cent of employees to be locals in our biggest market which is the US,” Wipro CEO and Member of the Board Abidali Z Neemuchwala told reporters here.

He added that Wipro has been investing significantly in the US towards increased hiring, setting up of delivery centres and sustainability initiatives, especially in the area of education. The Americas region accounted for over 54 per cent of Wipro’s $7.7 billion revenue in 2016-17. Indian technology firms use H-1B visas to send their employees to work at customer sites in the US, which is the largest market for the over USD 110 billion Indian IT export industry.

Over the past few weeks, there is a growing sentiment of protectionism across various markets, including the US, that are seeking to safeguard jobs for locals and raise the bar for foreign workers. Any change in visa norms can affect the movement of labour as well as spike operational costs for IT players. Critics believe that the prevailing visa regime allows companies to bring in “cheap” labour from countries like India, which adversely impacts local employment opportunities.

The Indian IT industry, however, contends that companies tend to bridge the skills gap by bringing in highly skilled professionals to temporarily work in the US on H-1B and other visas.

Neemuchwala said Wipro has set up two new centres in the US in California and Michigan. The Mountain View, California centre is a hub for next- generation technology and collaboration and will help in creating relevant advanced offerings for customers in the US, he added. The centre in Michigan offers engineering services to its automotive customers and is predominantly staffed with talent from the local community in the Detroit region, Neemuchwala said.

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