In Hiring More Local Workers, Major Outsourcing Firm Hedges Bets on H-1B Bill
Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) January 24, 2014 – Looming H-1B restrictions have impelled Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation to announce an increase in U.S. hirees at its Texas location.
In anticipation of possible restrictions on H-1B visas and in an attempt to improve the image of outsourcing firms, Gordon Coburn, Cognizant’s president, made a high-profile announcement in Texas on December 2, 2013. Coburn publicly stated that his company would hire 10,000 new workers from the United States, including at least 750 at a new facility in Texas.
Cognizant, one of the biggest applicants for green cards in the nation, employs more than 29,000 workers stateside and is based in New Jersey. However, the majority of the company’s roughly 166,400 employees live in India. It has been estimated that some 65 percent of the firm’s 29,000 U.S. employees have obtained H-1B or L-1 visas in order to work for the company.
U.S. companies that rely on a significant number of H-1B visa-admitted workers were rattled by the June passage of a bill in the U.S. Senate that would make the visas more costly to obtain.
Even though the Senate measure has not progressed, heavily-H-1B-dependent firms like Cognizant are already trying to mitigate the harmful effects such a bill could have by hiring more local workers.
In addition to the potential visa-related bind, U.S. firms may find themselves in their worst-case publicity scenario. Many large recruiting companies of science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — professionals also face an image problem associated with outsourcing. In such a light, Cognizant’s new decision on hiring could be viewed as a public relations move.
Coburn said that his firm’s headquarters will remain in Teaneck, N.J., but that company operations will soon be based at a new facility in College Station, Texas with the objective of recruiting local STEM graduates. In addition, Coburn announced a three-year $150,000 grant to Texas A&M University’s BioForce Initiative to encourage STEM education.
“Cognizant is one of the largest recruiters of STEM professionals in the U.S., and we are facing a severe shortage of STEM talent,” Coburn said. “Rather than sitting on the side, Cognizant is doing something about it.”
Even as Cognizant trumpets its plan to hire 10,000 U.S. workers, the firm still intends to bring in more foreign employees. The implications of the plan for Indian professionals remain a question mark.
“We have not set specific [hiring] goals for India or other regions,” Coburn said.
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