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Deloitte’s use of skilled foreign workers under the H-1B program, which is largely associated with technology companies, is far greater than any other applicant, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of fiscal year 2019 Department of Labor data.

A total of 57,259 H-1B visa workers were approved by DOL to work at the firm, including workers requested by itself and by staffing companies to place there, the data show. The total dwarfs second-place Qualcomm Inc., which is associated with applications for 29,623 visas.

While our focus is hiring U.S. workers—thousands this fiscal year on a national scale—our use of the U.S. visa programs allow us to complement our domestic workforce with highly-skilled workers, many of whom are graduates from U.S. colleges and universities, to meet the needs of our clients and our business,” Deloitte said.

But Deloitte also stands out for contracting H-1B workers out to other firms, placing the company in a category normally associated with big names in IT staffing services like Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. and Infosys Ltd., the top two suppliers of H-1B workers to other companies. Deloitte ranks third.

The visa program and its corporate sponsors have been a particular target of the Trump administration’s efforts to urge U.S. businesses to “hire American.” The data reveal not only which companies are applying for the visas, but also the final destination of H-1B workers who are contracted out to other employers.

And those destination companies include some big corporate names that aren’t usually associated with the H-1B program, like Wells Fargo & Co., Verizon Communications Inc., American Express Co., Anthem Inc., and Walmart Inc.

The H-1B visa, which essentially covers foreign nationals with a bachelor’s degree or higher, was intended as a streamlined way for businesses to access professional talent from abroad. In reality, it’s devolved into a cost-saving program that allows companies to displace U.S. workers with imported cheap labor.

The visas are capped at 85,000 per year, but that cap doesn’t apply to H-1B extensions for workers already in the U.S. That allows companies that rely heavily on the visa to hire and retain thousands of H-1B workers for years on end.

The data shines a light on what businesses want from the visa program and who their clients are, even if most of their wishes ultimately go unfulfilled, thanks to the cap.

Qualcomm’s strategy, similar to Deloitte’s, is to reserve as many H-1B slots as possible under a single job title in order “to ensure that we can attract top talent and are able to hire the best engineers regardless of their country of origin,” said spokeswoman Christine Trimble. The company uses standardized job descriptions and usually seeks DOL approval for 100 positions on each application, but may only ultimately sponsor 10 individuals for the visa, she said.

Qualcomm actually employs 2,715 H-1B visa workers, about 7% of its total workforce of 37,000, Trimble said.

Rounding out the top 5 companies getting H-1B workers approved directly as well as taking on workers from staffing companies:

  1. Deloitte: 57,259 H-1B workers
  2. Qualcomm: 29,623 H-1B workers
  3. Cisco Systems Inc.: 15,987 H-1B workers
  4. Apple Inc.: 15,754 H-1B workers
  5. Amazon.com Inc.: 14,233 H-1B workers

Deloitte’s rivals, Ernst & Young LLP, PwC LLP, and KPMG LLP, submitted fewer than 5,000 applications each, a fraction of the total sought by Deloitte.

This story was origonally published in Bloomberg Law.

Updated: Fri, Feb 21st 2020 @ 10:05am EST