Will 'Hired in America' Workers Help Indian Firms Avoid H-1B Controversy?

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Though the timing seems less than coincidental -- seeing how it closely follows the request by two U.S. senators that Indian outsourcing firms supply more details on how they use H-1B visas to export workers to the States -- Indian publications are giving heavy play to a BusinessWeek report about the so-called "reverse offshoring" trend.


One company cited in the report, Wipro, is looking to locate two software development centers in the U.S. Atlanta and Austin, Texas, are on a short list of cities Wipro is considering because of their talented workforces and "reasonable" labor costs. A Wipro executive says that local workers are best equipped to offer in-depth knowledge of its U.S. customers' businesses.


Both Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) plan to boost their U.S. workforces over the next few years, according to BusinessWeek. "If we can hire close to our clients, we don't have to bring in somebody from India on an H-1B,"says a TCS executive.


The report points out that Indian companies often end up paying more to bring Indians to America on H-1Bs than they do to employ local workers. It's getting even cheaper to hire Americans due to the weakening of the dollar against the rupee.


Reverse offshoring is not a new trend. A trip to the IT Business Edge archives turned up a story that details efforts by both TCS and Infosys to hire Americans. Though it's not an inexpensive solution, recruiting in the States is one way for those firms to address a shortage of Indian IT talent, especially for in-demand skills like Web development.


It also seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that Indian firms must offer truly multicultural workforces if they are to compete head-to-head with multi-national outsourcing specialists like IBM and Accenture.