Showing posts with label H1-B. Show all posts
Showing posts with label H1-B. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


US says Infosys blatantly flouted immigration laws

Federal prosecutors have alleged that IT major Infosys indulged in blatant violation of immigration laws by not only bringing its employee inside the country on a visa which does not permit work, but also issuing specific directions to its workers to mislead the immigration officials on their point of entry on their nature of work.

"To circumvent the requirements, limitations, and governmental oversight of the H-1B visa programme, Infosys committed visa fraud by knowingly and unlawfully using B-1 visa holders to perform skilled labour in order to fill positions in the United States for employment that would otherwise be performed by United States citizens or require legitimate H-1B visa holders, the US Attorney, John M Bales said.

Read more at TimesofIndia

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Indians third largest immigrant group in US: Study

Indians have emerged as the third-largest immigrant group in the US behind Mexicans and Chinese, with nearly 1.9 million of them living in the country, a new study by an American thinktank has said. 

Indian population in the US has grown to over 150 times its size since 1960, when the slightly more than 12,000 Indian immigrants represented less than 0.5 per cent of the total immigrant population of 9.7 million immigrants, a study by Migration Policy Institute has found. 

Till 2011, Indian-born immigrants accounted for almost five per cent (1.86 million) of America's 40.4 million immigrants. 

Almost one-third of all Indian immigrants resided in just two states- California and New Jersey. More than a quarter of them lived in three major metropolitan areas- New York, Chicago and San Jose. 

Two per cent of all unauthorised immigrants in the United States were also from India. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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Infy, iGate others in queue for Rs. 1,00,000-cr govt IT contracts

While visa restrictions and business slowdown pose challenges in their traditional strongholds, such US and Europe, upcoming mega government projects seem to offer a degree of comfort for the Indian IT companies.

Indian IT service companies TCS, Infosys, HCL, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and iGate and multinational companies such as IBM, Accenture, HP and Dell are vying for a sizable pie of various e-governance projects, the total cost of which would run into anywhere between Rs. 80,000 crore and Rs. 1,00,000 crore.

“For Indian IT industry, the government continues to be the major source of business,” said CN Raghupathi, vice-president, India business, Infosys. “With various e-governance initiatives at its nascent stage, the opportunity is enormous.”

“The rollout of Aadhar itself provides a lot of opportunities,” said Apporva Ruparel, head, India business, iGate. “There are 17 categories of direct cash subsidy… to be rolled out in 643 districts. In value terms this would throw up a huge number.”

Apart from Aadhar, various Central and state e-governance projects, such as digitisation of land records, implementation of smart-grids in electricity distribution companies and the computerisation of state treasuries will result in sizable contracts.

Tamil Nadu has finished bidding process for computerisation of its state tax department. Other states including Maharashtra are soon expected to come up with bids. For the smart-grid implementation, eight bids are underway.

All this does not necessarily mean a smooth flow of business for IT companies. "There is a fair degree of unpredictability as these are government projects," said a senior executive, who wished to be not identified.

The government is expected to play a major role in the future of the Indian IT market.

India’s IT market is expected to grow from $10.3 billion (Rs 61,800 crore) in 2012-13 to $13.4 billion (Rs 80,400 crore) this year, and to touch $20 billion (Rs 120,000 crore) by 2020.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rise in H-1B must for US economy: 100 IT CEOs

More than 100 top American CEOs from technology sector, including those from Facebook, Google and Microsoft, have appealed to the Senate to approve the comprehensive immigration bill, which they said will open a new path to the country's innovation and economic strength.

In a letter to all members of the Senate, the CEOs said they strongly believe the reforms in the bill, that impact high skilled immigration including key improvements in the availability of both green cards and H-1B visas, will help address the national talent shortage in the near-term.

In addition, it will also create a long-term pipeline of American workers through establishing a much-needed new fund for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, including computer science education, said the letter from more than 100 executives from the technology sector and leading innovation advocacy organisations.

The comprehensive immigration bill (S.744) will also protect and better prepare American workers, and enable employers and entrepreneurs of all sizes in every state to recruit and retain the world's best talent, the letter said.

"Senate approval of S.744 is essential for our economy to continue to foster innovation and invigorate many US business sectors through an educated and highly skilled workforce of domestic and foreign-born talent," it said.


Worried Indian IT companies hope for softer version of Immigration bill

The US Senate has approved a bill which could result in adverse consequences for India's information technology industry, but software companies are hoping that the final version will not be too harsh for them.

In a clear sign that the last word on the issue has not been said, there was good news for Indian IT from the lower chamber of Congress - the House of Representatives' judiciary committee approved an immigration bill focussed on high-skilled workers that is favourable to the software industry.

The bill was passed on Thursday with support from Republicans, hours after the Senate approved a bipartisan immigration reform bill with provisions to make temporary work visas harder and costlier to obtain.

A bill becomes law after it is passed by the House, the Senate and is signed by the president.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Expanding the H1B Foreign Work Visa Quota Would Help Small Businesses Most

A sweeping immigration reform bill was introduced to the Senate in April, and legislators are poised to begin debate over one of the most contentious issues in the country.

Besides the most important issue of illegal immigration, another key provision of the bill is the expansion in the number of H1B temporary work visas for workers with college degrees or in skilled occupations from the current cap of 65,000 a year to 110,000.

As is true of illegal immigration, the issue of legal work immigration is contentious, with many voices supporting the plan to expand the number of H1B visas granted each year, and many others opposing it.


Thursday, June 20, 2013


H-1B visa: Silicon Valley intensifies lobbying on US immigration bill

Eager to secure more visas for skilled foreign workers, tech companies have stepped up their lobbying this week in support of a comprehensive US immigration reform bill.

Human resources executives from Adobe, Broadcom, Intel, Motorola Solutions and other corporations met with dozens of lawmakers and senior advisers on Wednesday from the congressional committees in charge of immigration laws. They also spoke to a wide array of Democratic and Republican senators including some on-the-fence Republicans, such as Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rob Portman of Ohio, and some who have voiced opposition, including Mike Lee of Utah.

Lawmakers who favor the bill "have been urging us to work with them to make sure that the bill gets passed with the highest number of votes possible," said Robert Hoffman, senior vice president with the Information Technology Industry Council trade group.

Friday, March 30, 2012

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India shows concerns to US over rejection of H1B, L1 visas

India has complained to the US about an increase in the rate of rejection of US visas for Indian professionals that resulted in a sharp decline in the number of visas issued to Indians last year.

Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma took up the visa issue with US commerce secretary John Bryson in a bilateral meeting on Monday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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Lawmakers question sharp rise in denial of H1B, L1 visas

Voicing concern over increasing rates of denial of H-1B and L1 work visas, that are popular among Indian professionals, top US lawmakers and corporate bigwigs have questioned the Obama administration over the issue, warning this would hurt American business interests.

Officials at a Congressional hearing cited last year's figure of 26 per cent denial to H1B visa applicants, that was the highest in recent years, and also pointed out instances where the visas were denied for flimsy reasons.

Elton Gallegly, chair of the Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, said figures obtained from US Citizenship and Immigration Services show a rise in denial in certain categories of visas between the years of 2008 and 2010.

Click here to read more.

Monday, March 1, 2010

15 disqualified H-1B employers

Courtesy: IndiaTimes Infotech
2009 was one of the most controversial years for H-1B visas. For the first time ever, nearly 20,000 H-1B visas went a begging even seven weeks after the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started accepting applications for the financial year 2010.

With H-1B visas facing blame for the spiralling job losses in the US, the year saw numerous Bills being introduced for restricting the use of H-1B visas through legislation. This made US Department of Labor (DOL) and other US Immigration agencies tougher in approving H-1B visa applications.

Among all the brouhaha, many companies were also disqualified from applying for H-1B visas. A company faces debarment over what is seen as an H-1B abuse under US laws. The penalty of debarment means that a company is disqualified from obtaining approvals of employment-based, permanent and temporary petitions. This disqualification includes all H-1B, L-1, O-1, and P non-immigrant petitions, as well as all I-140 immigrant petitions, as part of the permanent residence process.

Here's over to the top 15 companies disqualified (starting November 30 2009).

4MY2C, Inc
Debarment period: 6/1/2009 to 5/31/2011
Employer location: Santa Fe Springs, CA

AGA John, Inc
Debarment period: 6/1/2008 to 5/31/2010
Employer location: 8687 Melrose Ave. Suite B-130 West Hollywood, CA 90069

Amtech Electrocircuits
Debarment period: 3/1/2008 to 2/28/2010
Employer location: 701 Minnesota Drive Troy, MI 48083

API Accounting & Computer Consulting
Debarment period: 4/1/2008 to 3/31/2010
Employer location: 17870 Castleton St. Suite 116 City of Industry, CA 91748

Assured Horizons, LLC
Debarment period: 8/1/2008 to 7/31/2010
Employer location: 18607 Brookhurst Street, Suite 359 Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Bradley Consulting Services, Inc
Debarment period: 6/1/2009 to 5/31/2011
Employer location: 3357 Pitcher Plant Circle Pensacola, FL 32506

Calpension, Inc
Debarment period: 6/1/2009 to 5/31/2010
Employer location: 23232 Peralta Dr. Suite 218 Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Cambridge Resource Group, Inc
Debarment period: 6/1/2009 to 5/31/2011
Employer location: Sri Reddy 18 Lyman Street Suite 207 Westborough, MA 01581

Complete Systems Solutions, Inc
Debarment period: 6/1/2009 to 5/31/2011
Employer location: 560 Sutter Street #400 San Francisco, CA 94102

Julian and Associates
Debarment period: 8/1/2008 to 7/31/2010
Employer location: 4641 North Ashland Avenue Chicago, IL 60640

LNBJ Construction Company, Inc
Debarment period: 3/1/2008 to 2/28/2010
Employer location: 2642 Briarwood Drive Marietta, GA 30067

Magnolia Pool Supply, Inc
Debarment period: 6/1/2009 to 5/31/2011
Employer location: 9571 Magnolia Ave. Riverside, CA 92503

Morex Enterprises Inc
Debarment period: 3/1/2008 to 2/28/2010
Employer location: 1442 E. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90021

Netultimate.Com, Inc
Debarment period: 6/1/2009 to 5/31/2011
Employer location: 8116 Arlington Blvd. Apt. 121 Falls Church, VA 22042

New Hope Solutions, Inc
Debarment period: 1/1/2009 to 12/31/2010
Employer location: 2731 Sawbury Blvd. Columbus, Ohio 43235
Source: IndiaTimes

Monday, January 4, 2010

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Information technology: The wonder decade

What started as an industry riding the demand from global customers seeking to make their IT and business systems Y2K compliant is today almost a $60-billion industry, contributing nearly 4% to India’s GDP.

Source: EconomicTimes
-1999 - The biggest inflection point was the role Indian companies played in combating the so-called millennium bug. TCS, Wipro and others become trusted partners for companies worldwide seeking to achieve Y2K compliance

-Infosys achieves $100 million in revenues, lists on Nasdaq. India’s outsourcing industry grows to $4 billion 2000-2001 - Indian IT industry moves from Y2K to complex e-business projects

-Dewang Mehta, who helped Indian IT industry grow in its early years, dies. Kiran Karnik takes over as Nasscom head

-US increases H1B visa limit to 1,95,000, the highest ever

-Wipro lists on NYSE

-2002-2003 - NR Narayana Murthy steps down from Infosys and Nandan Nilekani takes over

-Post the dotcom bust, companies such as DSQ Software, Pentafour and Silverline perish

-2004-2005 - TCS lists on BSE

-Large customers start offshoring ERP-based projects. Infosys becomes a $1-billion company, Wipro too crosses $1 billion in revenues

-GE sells 60% in GECIS — the back office pioneer — to private equity firms. The Indian BPO industry starts growing rapidly

-IBM, Accenture and HP start developing their Indian offshore presence to make them their largest operations outside the US

-2006-2007 - Indian IT becomes a $31-billion industry

-Protectionism in top export markets forces Indian IT companies to start hiring locals

-2008-2009 - Infosys’ revenues cross $4 billion. Nilekani joins the government as chairman of the Unique Identity Authority of India

-HCL acquires UK’s Axon for £441.1 million, the biggest ever acquisition for Indian IT

-Satyam founder Ramalinga Raju admits to over $1-billion fraud. Tech Mahindra acquires Satyam

-TCS’ annual revenues cross $6 billion. N Chandrasekaran takes over from S Ramadorai as chief executive

Monday, December 28, 2009


Visa reforms on cards in the US?

Another Immigration reform seems to be on cards in the US. According to InformationWeek, a 600-page Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 proposes changes to visas provided to foreign students who get advanced tech degrees in the United States.

It aims to make it easier for foreigners with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from the US universities and who have worked in their field in the US for three years to get green card employment visas.

According to the news report, they would be fast-tracked to green cards, which provide foreigners with permanent residency status, rather than lingering in H-1B visa limbo.

The legislation would also require employers applying for H-1B visas to prove that no US workers are available to fill the positions. It may also bar companies that have recently laid off US workers from engaging in the visa programme.

Foreign students with advanced technology degrees are required to leave the US shortly after graduating from a US university if they're unable to obtain or renew an H-1B visa or get a green card. The annual cap on H-1B visas is 85,000. This includes 65,000 general H-1B visas and 20,000 H-1Bs set aside for foreigners with advanced degrees.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Sharp drop in H-1B visas being used by Indian cos

Reflecting the changed ground realties in the US in the wake of economic crisis, there has been a sharp drop in H-1B work visas being applied for and obtained by major IT companies from India.

For instance the Infosys, which got as many as 4,559 H-1B visas in the fiscal 2008 and was on top of the list of firms bagging the coveted scheme for professionals, received just 440 H-1B visas in the fiscal 2009 (from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009), according to the latest figures released by the US Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Similarly, Wipro, which in 2008 got 2,678 H-1B visas, received just 1,964 in 2009; but still topped the list in the fiscal 2009.

In 2008, four out of the top five spots for companies bagging the maximum number of H-1B visas were grabbed by Indian companies. These were Infosys (4,559), Wipro (2678), Satyam (1917) and Tata Consultancy Services (1539). Microsoft with 1037 H1-1B visas was the only US company to figure in top five.

However, the situation has changed dramatically in the year 2009 amid the global financial meltdown.

Friday, December 4, 2009

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Demand for US H-1B visas on the rise

Applications for H-1B visas increased rapidly since October, indicating growing demand for skilled foreign staff from US companies

Demand for US H-1B visas has grown dramatically in the past month and a half, according to a report on

Figures released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service showed a spike in applications, after a quiet summer, indicating that US companies are again looking for foreign workers to fill skilled positions.

The demand seen in the past six to eight weeks has driven up the number of visa petitions to 58,900, approaching the 65,000 cap for financial year 2010.

The demand spike may also be down to companies switching existing foreign temporary workers on L-1B visas to the more stable H-1B visa, and demand for visas for students who have recently graduated with technical qualifications.

If the level cap is reached, which is expected to happen possibly by the start of next year, visas would then be allocated on a lottery basis, which is also fuelling the rush for visas as companies push through applications for staff.

The H-1B visa allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, and has been widely used by the IT and technology sectors to secure skilled employees.

Many non-US offshoring companies also rely on H-1B to be able to place their staff with customers in the US.

The system is controversial however, with opponents saying that jobs should go to American citizens first. There is currently legislation proposed to the US Senate which would prevent any company that has already laid off 50 or more workers from hiring guest workers, which could potentially affect a large number of technology firms that have laid off large numbers of workers but continue hiring to fill other roles.
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Infosys to double US headcount

Indian IT majors seem to be in a hurry to shed their `job stealer' tag. Country's IT bellwether is all set to double its workforce in the US.

According to a news report in Walls Street Journal (WSJ), India's second-largest software exporter by revenue is planning to hire 1,000 employees in the US. The report quotes a recent interview of the company's Chief Executive S Gopalkrishnan to Dow Jones Newswires.

The news comes close on the heels of TCS CEO saying that the company wants to become global not just in terms of "sales but from a people perspective". The country's numero uno IT company recently expanded its strategic business alliance with US-based Dow Chemicals. The alliance will create new jobs in Midland-Michigan.

As part of the alliance, Dow and TCS are planning to build a new service centre at a site near Dow's global headquarters in Midland Michigan, the US.

Recently the country's third largest IT company Wipro Technologies too announced that it is expanding its US operations and will hire about 1,000 people, including more locals.

Indian IT companies, who have traditionally been earning over 50% of their profits from the US markets, are often derided for stealing local jobs. The recent recession and spiralling unemployment in the US seems has only further fueled the sentiment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Firms can mitigate IT skills shortage

The shortage of information and communications technology (ICT) skills in developed countries could become a serious issue once the worldwide economic crisis starts easing.

This will be exacerbated by the falling number of masters and PhD holders in science and engineering, restrictions on cross-border movement of IT professionals and the US H-1B visa programme. However, this vicious circle could be mitigated by the Indian service firms increasingly recruiting internationally, according to a new OECD report on employment trends in the ICT secto

The report notes that Indian tech firms like TCS, Wipro and Infosys have seen slower recruitment since the first quarter of 2008. However, the pent-up demand in the European economies and the US will ensure that good workers are available for the taking when these companies are looking to further expand their international operations.

“Concerns have been raised whether increased offshore activities could lead to a shortage of ICT skills in the OECD countries in the long term,” the report said, adding that such a shortage could reinforce the need for further offshoring as ICT skills shortage is known to be a driver for offshore outsourcing.

The report said that while no additional largescale layoffs have been announced by the top 10 IT services firms, employment levels will stay at almost the present levels until 2009-end. IT services firms like IBM and Cap Gemini have announced slower hiring for 2009. So have Indian IT giants like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys, which despite the crisis, still expect to grow in single digits in the third quarter of 2009-10.

The economic crisis has put IT service costs under pressure, but this may benefit outsourcing due to the increased internal cost-cutting and perceived benefits from more flexible external sourcing of IT and business process services. The recent quarterly data on the outsourcing markets indicate that despite the number of outsourcing transactions still on the rise, revenue growth through IT and BPO will probably decline in 2009, due to the falling total contract values (TCV), the OECD report said.

However, the Asia-Pacific region has been performing well with TCV in the first half of 2009 increasing over 150 per cent over the first half of 2008. The report suggested that higher TCVs in the APAC region could explain the optimism of the Indian tech service firms who have been changing their product-product mix to adapt to the changing market demands.

“Recruitments have already started to slow in the beginning of 2008 when new hiring by leading Indian service providers dropped 22 per cent in the first quarter of 2008 and by almost 50 per cent in the second quarter compared to the same period one year earlier. These lower recruitment rates are also reflected in the decreasing number of new offshore centres opened by IT services firms,” the report added.

Legislation to make H-1B hiring tough

There seems stricter H-1B restrictions are in the offing for IT firms. According to a report, two senators Bernie Sanders and Charles Grassley, have introduced legislation that would bar any company that lays off 50 or more workers from hiring guest workers.

The legislation could potentially affect a large number of technology firms that have laid off large numbers of workers but continue hiring, says the report in ComputerWorld.

The high-tech industry overall has laid off more than 345,000 workers since August 2008, according to the two senators. In a statement released last week, Grassley said "With the unemployment rate over 10%, companies that undertake mass layoffs shouldn't need to hire foreign guest workers when there are plenty of qualified Americans looking for jobs."

Earlier this year, the duo successfully got H-1B hiring restrictions added to the financial bailout bill. In February 2009, US Senate agreed to set restrictions on the hiring of H-1B workers by financial services firms that receive federal bailout funds.

The amendment passed though didn't include a blanket restriction on H-1B use, it did set a series of strict standards on H-1B hiring. Any company receiving TARP funds is automatically considered H-1B-dependent, regardless of the percentage of H-1B workers on its payroll.

The H-1B-dependent designation subjects employers to a number of requirements, including a good-faith effort to hire US workers first.
Source: IndiaTimes
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25,000 onsite H-1B inspections

US immigration officials are taking H-1B enforcement plan to conduct 25,000 on-site inspections of companies hiring foreign workers over this fiscal year, according to a report in ComputerWorld.

According to the report, the move marks a nearly five-fold increase in inspections over last fiscal year, when the agency conducted 5,191 site visits. The new federal fiscal year began Oct. 1.

Tougher enforcement comes in response to a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) study (in October 2008), titled H1-B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment, which found a 27% rate of fraud in the H1-B visa programme.

According to the study, there were a total of 51 cases from the sample of 246 H1-B petitions that were fraud or a technical violation of the regulations. The research primarily found two types of fraud, one, where there was 'willful misrepresentation, falsification, or omission of a material fact'; and two, where there was no willful fraud, but `there was evidence that the employer or alien beneficiary failed to comply with applicable laws and regulations.'

Some of the fraudulent activities included cases where either the business did not exist or the degrees and supporting documentation were found forged. In several cases, signatures too were found forged. USCIS study also found that 27 percent of the workers surveyed were being paid less than the prevailing wage for a particular job description and location.

According to US immigration authorities, over 11,000 H-1B visa slots are still vacant against the Congress-mandated cap of 65,000 for the fiscal 2010.

This is for the first time in several years that thousands of H-1B visas are still to be filled up. In previous years, the entire visa slots used to be grabbed on day one.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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TCS employing local talent in U.S.

To expand its U.S. operation, TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) plans to hire 1,000 local workers at its new facility near Cincinnati, Ohio, by the end of 2010, reports DNA.

The company opened a $20 million delivery and software development centre in Milford, Cincinnati in Ohio, in March last year - in a bid to win federal contracts and be closer to the headquarters of its U.S. clients. Suryakant, President of TCS North America said, "The Cincinnati region is a great place for U.S. to recruit local talent to meet the demands of our customers as they grow out of the downturn."

The ohio facility is also aimed at securing what some major Indian service providrs are chasing - defence and avionics work. TCS is reportedly in talks with Boeing and Lockheed Martin for defence and aerospace contracts. This work can only be done by American citizens or green card holders.

Recently, the company bagged projects related to unemployment insurance for the states of Nebraska, New Mexico and Mississippi. "The U.S. by far our largest market and the seven hills park facility in Ohio plays an integral role in our strategy of putting our customers first," said Suryakant.

Currently, TCS employs 15,000 people in the U.S. The company has been shipping quite a bit of work to U.S, ignoring India's popular IT hubs.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

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H-1B visa applications lowest since 2003

More than six months after the federal government began accepting petitions for work visas popular with Silicon Valley companies, thousands of spots remain open, a reflection of the nation's high unemployment and the political pressure to hire citizens, experts say.

As of last week, 46,700 H-1B visa applications had been submitted, thousands less than the 65,000 allocated for fiscal year 2010 and the lowest number since 2003. The cap for 20,000 additional H-1B visas reserved for foreign graduates of U.S. colleges with at least a master's degree was met, though applications are still being accepted.

Tech industry insiders say the recession is primarily responsible for the dearth of applications. "There is definitely a sense that there is a growing hostility toward some of the (visa) programs, but I don't think that is related to the downturn" in petitions, said Jenifer Verdery, Intel's director of work force policy. "You are not going to see big ramp-ups in hiring during the downturn."

But political pressure did affect hiring in other industries. The federal stimulus law includes provisions making it difficult for financial companies receiving money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, to hire H-1B workers. The requirement forced companies
like Bank of America to rescind job offers to foreign professionals.

Julie Pearl, a San Francisco-based corporate immigration lawyer who works with valley companies, says her firm's caseload for visa work has been cut in half. "In the financial industry, H-1B (applications) are down almost 75 percent," she added.

Sen. Charles Grassley has criticized tech companies for not protecting jobs of U.S. citizens over those of foreigners as they lay off thousands of employees at a clip. The Iowa Republican and Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, in April reintroduced a bill that would require companies to do everything they can to hire Americans before seeking H-1B visas.

One technology corporate client of Pearl's declined to file petitions out of a sense of patriotism. "They felt, 'How do you hire a foreigner' " with 12 percent unemployment in California, she said.

Samta Kapoor, who will complete her master's degree in engineering management at Duke University in December, said she and other foreign-born classmates have been told by prospective employers that they are not hiring international students this year. "There are times when we are not even looked at. They say, 'We are not hiring international students this year. It's a companywide policy. Sorry,' " she said.

Silicon Valley companies, where immigrants have played prominent roles in creating startups and new technology inventions, view the H-1B visa program as a way to grab the best talent from around the world. "For most of our clients, their mantra is: Hire the best person you can," Pearl added.

Companies can spend thousands of dollars per applicant. "It's such a hard process," Verdery of Intel said. "It's a laborious, difficult, expensive endeavor to bring someone on board."

Despite the challenges, Intel has continued about the same level of H-1B hiring as in the past, she said.

In recent years, there has been some support from both parties in Congress for more H-1B visas and green cards for foreign professionals, a major goal of tech companies that has been caught up in the highly charged debate over immigration.

During the dot-com boom a decade ago, the H-1B visa cap was 195,000 a year, a reflection of the frenzied hiring of tech workers in Silicon Valley and elsewhere around the nation. That number dropped dramatically during the recession that followed.

Les French, president of WashTech, a Seattle-based union for tech professionals, which is critical of the visa program, predicts application levels will eventually rise again. "Once the economy picks up, you'll see a pickup in the applications," he said. "I think it will be lock-step with the economy."

Others, though, say the difficulties faced by foreign-born potential workers as well as the recession will deter some overseas professionals from pursuing careers here.
"The problem is, you lose the cream-of-the-crop," said Vivek Wadhwa, a researcher on immigration and labor issues at the University of California-Berkeley. "The cream of the crop can get jobs elsewhere. Before, they had to come here."

Nonetheless, students such as Kapoor say the United States is still their first choice.

"There are a lot of things happening back home," said Kapoor, who is from Mumbai, India. "There would be no lack of opportunity for me if I went back. But I've been educated here. I want to give back to the United States."