Top outsourcing firms deluge the federal government with applications for H-1B visas, sidelining many smaller American employers, according to a story in Tuesday’s New York Times.

“The H-1Bs are actually pushing jobs offshore,” Ron Hira, a Howard University professor who studies visa programs, told The Times.

The Times cited Hira’s research, which found that the top recipients of H-1B visas for highly skilled workers include labor brokers based in India, among them Tata Consultancy Services.

This echoes some of the findings of our investigation last year, which reported that labor brokers had exploited Indian tech workers dispatched to some of America’s top companies, including Cisco Systems Inc. and Apple Inc. Not only is Tata typically among the top applicants for H-1B visas, but it also underpays and traps workers in their jobs, according to workers interviewed by The Center for Investigative Reporting, The CIR story, which also appeared in The Guardian, reported:

Global giants such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., part of India’s Tata group, also have made workers sign restrictive employment agreements before they leave India for the U.S., according to interviews with several workers and company documents submitted in court.

With more than 16,000 H-1B petitions approved between the 2011 and 2013 fiscal years, Tata has been one of the top users of the temporary visas, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services records. Tata clients have ranged from tech giants such as Cisco Systems to retail firms such as Wal-Mart.

In interviews, workers said Tata demanded that they pay penalties if they quit before their contracts ended.

Jennifer Gollan

Jennifer Gollan is an award-winning reporter. Her investigation When Abusers Keep Their Guns, which exposed how perpetrators often kill their intimate partners with guns they possess unlawfully, spurred sweeping provisions in federal law that greatly expanded the power of local and state police and prosecutors to crack down on abusers with illegal firearms. The project won a 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and has been nominated for a 2022 Emmy Award.

Gollan also has reported on topics ranging from oil companies that dodge accountability for workers’ deaths to shoddy tire manufacturing practices that kill motorists. Her series on rampant exploitation and abuse of caregivers in the burgeoning elder care-home industry, Caregivers and Takers, prompted a congressional hearing and a statewide enforcement sweep in California to recover workers’ wages. Another investigation – focused on how Navy shipbuilders received billions in public money even after their workers were killed or injured on the job – led to tightened federal oversight of contractors’ safety violations.

Gollan’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Guardian US and Politico Magazine, as well as on PBS NewsHour and Al Jazeera English’s “Fault Lines” program. Her honors include a national Emmy Award, a Hillman Prize for web journalism, two Sigma Delta Chi Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a National Headliner Award, a Gracie Award and two Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing awards. Gollan is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.