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H-1B visa powerhouse pledges lots of jobs -- for Americans

Infosys, a top sponsor of H-1B visas, is turning its hiring efforts to the US.

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Infosys promises 10,000 jobs for Americans over the next 2 years.

pic by hemant Mishra/mint, Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India-based IT services firm Infosys is out to hire Americans.

The company, which is one of the top sponsors of H-1B visas in the US, will be hiring 10,000 Americans in the next two years.

H-1B visas give US companies that can't find qualified talent domestically the ability to hire folks from abroad for up to 6 years in specialized fields.

The initiative includes opening four hubs in the US that will focus on areas of technology including machine learning, artificial intelligence, the cloud and big data, Infosys said Tuesday. The first of those hubs will open in Indiana in August and promises 2,000 jobs by 2021.

H-1B visas first came about in the '90s and have been particularly popular in the tech industry. The government admits about 85,000 workers with the visas every year, and those workers are typically in high-skilled fields like tech, medicine and science. In 2015, about 66 percent of approvals for H-1B visas went to computer-related professions, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Under former President Barack Obama, the White House estimated there were about a half-million open jobs in information technology in the US. In short, there aren't enough qualified people to fill them.

Infosys' announcement comes after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April that, in part, is aimed at revamping the H-1B visa program. The order to "Buy American and Hire American" contains a section directing the secretary of state, the attorney general, the secretary of labor and the secretary of homeland security to suggest reforms to make sure H-1B visas go to the "most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries."

While it's not entirely clear just yet what that will mean for H-1B visas, Trump has criticized the program in the past. The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment as to what the reform could entail.

Before signing the executive order, Trump said, "With this action, we're sending a powerful signal to the world. We're going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first."

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