Watch CBSN Live

India's Infosys vows to hire 10,000 American workers

Loophole in H-1B a "travesty"

Infosys might not be a household name in America, but some of its labor practices have become a hot-button issue in the U.S.

Infosys (INFY) is an Indian information technology company that is one of the biggest users of the H-1B visa program, which has come under fire from President Donald Trump and others who claim the system allows businesses to hire cheaper foreign workers rather than Americans. That criticism is heard on both sides of the political aisle, with the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute charging that Infosys and its competitors use the visa program to cut labor costs. 

Amid heightened scrutiny of the visa program, Infosys pledged on Tuesday to hire 10,000 American workers over the next two years. The planned hiring spree will also include the opening of four new technology and innovation hubs around the country that focus on tech fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the company said in a statement. The first hub will open in Indiana in August and is expected to employ 2,000 Americans by 2021. 

"Having lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years, and being a part of the incredible innovation here, I truly believe Infosys can help clients bring innovation more directly into their businesses," Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka said in a statement. 

Silicon Valley prepares to take on Trump over immigration agenda

At an Indiana event to announce the initiative, Sikka said Mr. Trump's focus on the H1-B visa program didn't influence its decision to add American workers, according to The Associated Press. The plan had been in the works for years, he noted.

While Infosys vowed to hire in specific tech-related fields, it didn't specify how many of the jobs would consist of support staff versus higher-paid tech workers. Hiring American programmers and analysts is considerably costlier than outsourcing tech staff from India, according to a 2015 study from EPI. 

The median wage of workers hired by Infosys on H-1B visas was $65,631, compared with the median wage of $90,376 for a computer systems analyst based in Los Angeles, the study found. 

Although supporters of the visa program argue that it allows American companies to hire businesses that are in desperate need of skilled tech labor, critics argue it's prone to abuse. 

Infosys had already stepped up its hiring in the Americas., adding more than 2,100 workers in North and South America from 2015 to 2016, according to Business Standard