Indian IT firms operating in the US have long maintained that H-1B visas do not lead to outsourcing of jobs or shrink the job market for Americans. But few were willing to listen.
A new study by an independent US think-tank has now made the same argument. And Indian IT firms are hoping they would fare much better now.
The National Foundation for American Policy study argues that H-1Bs are good for the US economy and the demonisation of Indian IT firms is without any merit.
An immigration reform bill introduced in the US senate recently proposed to overhaul the H-1B visa system to end its use in outsourcing Americans jobs to cheaper foreign workers.
Democrat senator Richard Durbin, one of the eight co-authors of the bill, said at a recent hearing that Indian firms were misusing these visas to outsource US jobs.
"An examination of data reveals that the premises on which these new restrictions rest are not supported by facts," said the study released on Wednesday.
The study attacks the basic premise of the H-1B-outsourcing argument that foreign workers are cheaper. They are not, and make as much as Americans of the same age and with the same qualifications.
US operations of Indian IT firms such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro use H-1B visas. So do Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Yahoo and other companies.
There is a perception that Indian IT firms corner a large chunk of these visas. The US issues 65,000 H-1B visas every year — and around 19% of them went to Indian firms in 2012.
But that number has not always been so high.
"In FY 2012, India-based companies utilised 19.9% of the new H-1B petitions approved," said the study.