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Cognizant to ‘significantly’ ramp up US hiring, following H-1B visa curbs

LiveMint logoLiveMint 05-05-2017 PTI

New Delhi: IT company Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. expects to “significantly” ramp up headcount in the US in a bid to woo the Donald Trump administration, which has been critical of outsourcing firms for “unfairly” taking jobs away from American workers.

The US-based firm has over 2.61 lakh employees, with a large number of them based in India. While the company is hiring more locals, it is also consciously reducing its dependence on H-1B visas. Cognizant expects its visa requirements to go down further going forward. The US had recently accused Cognizant, along with its Indian counterparts Infosys and TCS, of unfairly cornering the lion’s share of America’s H-1B visas.

Cognizant president Rajeev Mehta said the company expects to significantly ramp up its US-based workforce by hiring experienced professionals in the open market as well as make more use of university, veteran, and related programmes. He attributed the shift to be “largely in response to clients’ increasing need for co-innovation and co-location”. The company had hired 4,000 US citizens and residents in 2016. “We are shifting our workforce rapidly in the US with more US jobs and US delivery centres,” Mehta said.

Over the past few months, there has been a growing sentiment of protectionism across various markets, including the US, that are seeking to safeguard jobs for locals and raising the bar for foreign workers. Talking about Cognizant’s visa requirements, Mehta said the company is working on reducing its dependence on these work permits. “While we will still seek visas for highly-specialised and skilled talent, we’re reducing our dependence on these visas,” Mehta added. He said Cognizant has applied for less than half the number of visas this year compared to last year and this would go down further going forward.

Mehta, however, did not disclose the numbers of visas applied for. Indian IT firms are also ramping up their operations in the US by hiring more locals in order to comply with norms. The tightening of visa norms not only pushes up operational costs for these tech firms but also makes movement of skilled workforce difficult. Earlier this week, Infosys announced that it would hire 10,000 Americans over the next two years and set up four innovation hubs.

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