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 a reporter for Reveal, covering labor and corporate accountability.

An Emmy Award winner, Gollan has reported on topics ranging from oil companies that dodge accountability for workers’ deaths to lax manufacturing practices that contributed to deadly tire blowouts.

Gollan uncovered rampant exploitation and abuse of caregivers in the burgeoning elder care-home industry. The series, Caregivers and Takers, detailed how operators enriched themselves while paying workers about $2 an hour to work around the clock. The stories prompted a congressional hearing, plans for prosecutions and new state legislation. 

Gollan exposed how Navy shipbuilders received billions in public money even after their workers were killed or injured. In response to her reporting, Congress passed a new federal law, the Government Accountability Office produced a report and the Pentagon began scrutinizing the safety records of more defense contractors.

Gollan’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Guardian U.S., Politico Magazine and PBS NewsHour.

Her honors include a national Emmy Award, a Hillman Prize for web journalism, two Sigma Delta Chi Awards, a National Headliner Award, a Gracie Award and two Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing Awards. She has been a finalist for an ONA Online Journalism Award, an IRE Award and two Gerald Loeb Awards. Gollan is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.