Infosys has stepped up hiring in the US as the Bengaluru-based IT (information technology) services company tries to lower its dependence on visas and create a stronger base closer to customers. In 2015-16, the company hired 2,144 people in North and South Americas, which was more than a quarter of its employee base in the region at the end of 2014-15. This was the largest addition of local employees by Infosys in the region. The US is the major country in the region, accounting for over 60 per cent of the total IT exports from India. Sources in the company said hires included Americans as well as green card holders. Temporary US business visas, both H-1B and L-1, are becoming scarce. With the US presidential election due this year, visas have again become a political tool to win votes. “We continue to be influenced by the visa issue situation. Our view is to become independent of visas and hire locally,” Vishal Sikka, chief executive officer of Infosys told the Business Standard last month. He said Infosys wanted to become visa- and location-independent through local hiring and collaborative technology. At the end of 2015-16, Infosys had 23,594 employees in the US, the majority of whom were working on business visas.
In its recently released annual report, the company stated it had 11,659 H-1B visa-holders and 1,364 L-1B visa-holders. H-1B is a non-immigrant visa which allows an employee to remain in the US for up to six years as long as he or she remains an employee of the sponsoring firm. L-1 visas allow an employee to stay in the country temporarily for a maximum duration of 5-7 years.
Infosys has also stepped up hiring in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa. At the end of 2015-16, Infosys had 21,403 employees outside India, 11 per cent of its employee base against 9.95 per cent at the end of 2014-15.
Apart from Infosys, most of the Indian and offshore-centric IT services companies are increasingly looking at hiring local staff in the US. In a recent interaction with Business Standard, Wipro's CEO Abidali Neemuchwala had said that going forward the company is looking at hiring more number of local employees in onsite locations instead of sending people from India.
"Earlier you were sending lot of people from India to onsite which is changing by locally hiring onsite. Even though hiring will continue, but the number of people hiring in India will be lower," Neemuchwala had said.