The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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America cuts down on H-1b visas

Washington, May 28 (PTI): As protests increase in the US against outsourcing of jobs to India, especially in the information technology sector, America has cut down issuance of H-1b visas for overseas professionals, and a legislator has asked five companies to reveal how many Indians they are employing.

During the first three quarters of the fiscal year 2002, about 60,500 people were approved to begin employment with H-1b status, while the limit in the period was 1,95,000, according to a release from immigration authorities, who now come under the department of homeland security.

By comparison, as of June 30, 2001, about 1,30,700 were approved by the immigration and natural services to begin employment in H-1b status.

During the first nine months of the fiscal year 2002, about 1,59,000 H-1b petitions were filed for initial or continuing H-1b employment compared with 2,70,000 and 2,20,000 for the same period in 2001 and 2000 respectively. The first nine months of the fiscal years 2001 and 2002 saw a decline in petition filings by 41 per cent.

In total, 1,47,600 petitions were approved during the first three quarters of the fiscal year 2002, of which, 42,700 were filed prior to October 1, 2001.

Connecticut Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson has requested the chief executives of five leading US insurance companies — Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., Hartford Financial Services Group, Phoenix Cos. Inc. and Travellers Property Casualty Corp. — to reveal how many Indian citizens they are employing in the IT sector.

The Hartford said the request came in the wake of allegations that the companies were abusing the H-1b visa programme.

In her letters to the companies, Johnson sought information on how many Indians the firms are employing on H-1b visas now, if that number has grown during the past two years, and how many IT workers they had laid off.

Wanting to know more about outsourcing of jobs to India and other nations, Johnson met with constituents last month who were complaining about the loss of jobs for Americans because of the import of foreigners and export of jobs overseas.

India was singled out, because its professionals can be employed due to their proficiency in English.

“The Congresswoman’s interest in this is to see that Connecticut jobs are protected and that the law is followed,” Brian S. Schubert, Johnson’s press secretary, was quoted as saying, though there is not the slightest suggestion that the insurance companies are in violation of the law.

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