Udayavni Special

Infosys close to 63% visa-independent in US

Team Udayavani, Nov 15, 2020, 4:59 PM IST

Infosys has been “intensely focused” on skilling and generating local employment in markets like the US, which has helped the IT services major become about 63 per cent visa-independent in the US and over 50 per cent in Europe and Australia-New Zealand, a top company executive said.

Infosys, which counts the US as its biggest market, said it is still early to comment on the approach the new US administration could take towards work visas but it expects to continue benefiting from its ongoing localisation efforts.

“We continue to see challenges to mobility of talent. New proposed immigration regulations in USA could impact onsite wage costs, granting of visas, tenure of visas, and overall costs of compliance.

“Our localisation programme across USA, Europe and Australia, launched three years ago, mitigates many of these,” Infosys Chief Operating Officer Pravin Rao said at a recent analyst meet.

He added that Infosys has eight innovation hubs across the US and the EU, nine global Digital Studios (including a 5G lab in Melbourne) and seven global cyber defence centres.

“We are close to 63 per cent visa-independent in the US and over 50 per cent in Europe and ANZ. We have been intensely focused on creating jobs in the US for the past three years,” he noted.

In September, the Bengaluru-based firm had said it plans to hire 12,000 American workers over the next two years, taking its hiring commitment in the country to 25,000 over five years.

Industry watchers say while IT companies have been ramping up their presence in the US and other markets, and hiring locals over the past few years to overcome visa-related challenges.

North America is the largest market for Infosys, accounting for 60.7 per cent of its revenue, followed by Europe (24.3 per cent), rest of the world (12 per cent) and India (3 per cent), as on September 30, 2020. Infosys had clocked 8.5 per cent year-on-year rise in revenue to Rs 24,570 crore in the September 2020 quarter.

Infosys had 2,40,208 employees at the end of the said quarter. It does not provide a region-specific break-up of the headcount.

Rao said that through academia partnerships with institutes like Purdue, Trinity and RISD, the company has trained a large number of employees as well, and is leveraging the training and reskilling programmes that it has built with partners.

“We recently launched reskill and restart platform, which will play a crucial role in hiring local talent. We will bring a specific focus on building pathways for those that have been impacted by the economic downturn,” he said adding that Infosys is also expanding its presence in nearshore locations like Mexico and Canada.

Asked if Infosys will rethink its strategy as the approach of the president-elect on the visa issue appears to be more liberal, Rao said it is still early days to comment.

“It is early days to see what the approach of the new regime is towards visa and by and large many of the things we saw during the Trump regime had bipartisan support as well.

“We may see some changes from the Trump regime, but it will not go back to the old pre-Trump days,” he added.

He added that from a strategic perspective, Infosys’ approach of localisation is “probably the right one”.

“This is what we anticipated about three years back and we are seeing huge success and we have benefited from it and it is likely to continue,” Rao said.

Indian IT players are keeping a close watch on US president-elect Joe Biden’s approach and policies related to H-1B work visas that are used by a large number of Indian technology professionals. Biden is to be sworn in as the US president on January 20, 2021.

In June, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Donald Trump administration had banned the entry into the US of workers in several key non-immigrant visa categories, including H-1B, until the end of the year, arguing that they eat into American jobs.

Those affected include the family members of the H-1B, L-1, and certain categories of J1 visas. Later, certain exemptions in H-1B and L-1 travel bans were announced for those continuing employment with the same employer. The move that could help Indian IT professionals and those working in the healthcare sector.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

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