Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

These Biotech Giants and Big Pharmas Hired the Most Employees from Overseas

The Walt Disney Company has learned the hard way what ill will it can generate by embracing outsourcing. Months after Disney’s Parks and Resorts division laid off 250 IT workers that it replaced with non-employee hires, the company’s Disney ABC Television Group decided to outsource another 35 IT jobs to a firm employing H-1B visa holders from overseas. Disney cancelled that potential move after criticism followed a NY Times story on the company’s plans.

Disney is hardly alone in embracing H-1B-based outsourcing. Among the largest biopharma employers, GEN found much heavier use of workers with H-1B visas as of the 2014 federal fiscal year—the most recent data available—compared with two years earlier. Both in this Top 15 list and the smaller tally published by GEN in 2013, the same company appears on top—and more than tripled its use of certified H-1B workers.

Also, half the top 10 listed in 2013 wouldn’t have even made this year’s list based on their FY2012 numbers, since the lowest-ranked company this time around had 40 certified H-1B workers. That reflects in part the ascent of biotech giants that have been at least as eager to use H-1B workers as their big pharma counterparts.

Since the list is based on data from FY2014, it does not account for more recent mergers and acquisitions. The Allergan appearing on this list, for example, is the former Allergan Inc., acquired by Actavis for $70.5 billion in a deal whose completion was announced March 17. During FY2014, the combination of the two companies had 68 certified workers, which would have placed it between the companies ranked 6th and 7th on this List. It would have ranked higher had other Actavis acquisitions been included, such as Forest Laboratories (which had eight certified workers).

Below are top 10 biopharma companies with certified H-1B staff, ranked by their numbers of workers certified for employment through the H-1B visa program during federal FY 2014, which ended on September 30, 2014. Also listed for companies are their numbers, if any, of workers denied the visas, and workers who were certified, but whose certifications were later withdrawn.


#15. Johnson & Johnson (including Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies)1,2

40 workers certified

1 certified-withdrawn


#14. Pfizer

41 workers certified

26 certified-withdrawn; 3 withdrawn


#13. Allergan3

41 workers certified

26 certified-withdrawn; 3 withdrawn


#12. Merck & Co.

43 workers certified

30 certified-withdrawn; 1 denied


#11. Bayer HealthCare

44 workers certified


#10. Regeneron

47 workers certified

3 certified-withdrawn; 2 withdrawn; 1 denied


#9. AstraZeneca and subsidiary MedImmune4

55 workers certified

1 denied


#8. Biogen

61 workers certified

3 denied; 1 certified-withdrawn


#7. Gilead Sciences

66 workers certified

2 denied; 2 withdrawn


#6. Sanofi and subsidiary Genzyme5

74 workers certified

7 certified-withdrawn; 3 withdrawn; 3 denied


#5. Bristol-Myers Squibb

81 workers certified

9 certified-withdrawn; 4 withdrawn


#4. Amgen

98 workers certified

3 withdrawn; 2 certified-withdrawn


#3. AbbVie

108 workers certified

2 certified-withdrawn; 2 withdrawn; 1 denied


#2. Roche and subsidiary Genentech 6

115 workers certified

4 certified-withdrawn; 4 withdrawn; 2 denied


#1. Novartis

209 workers certified

5 certified-withdrawn; 4 withdrawn; 3 denied



























To answer your question:

Certified-withdrawn means a “Labor Condition Application” (LCA) for a non-immigrant worker was withdrawn by the employer following “certification” by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a unit of the Department of Homeland Security
.  Labor condition application (LCA), Form ETA 9035/9035E is a document that a prospective H-1B employer files with OFLC when it seeks to employ nonimmigrant workers at a specific job occupation in an area of intended employment for not more than three years. In this document, the employer attests to standards to which it will adhere. It must be certified by the authorized DOL official pursuant to the provisions of 20 C.F.R. §655.740 before it can be used.
. Certification means the approval by a certifying official that a labor condition application is complete and does not contain obvious inaccuracies.

Withdrawn means the LCA was withdrawn by the employer before a decision on approval.

Denied means the LCA was denied by USCIS

Sources for my definitions:
. US Department of Labor – “elaws – H-1B Advisor” —  http://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/h1b/glossary.aspx?word=all#L
. H1B Wiki – unofficial blog ; also runs a facebook page — http://www.h1bwiki.com/h1b-sponsor-search-application

1 Johnson & Johnson had 21 certified workers; Janssen subsidiaries had 18 certified and 1 certified-withdrawn
2 Janssen companies include Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and sister companies Janssen Biotech and Janssen Therapeutics.
3 Reflects workers of the former Allergan Inc., which was acquired by Actavis for $70.5 billion in a deal announced as being completed March 17. The combined company has since been renamed Allergan.
4 AstraZeneca had 15 certified workers; the remaining workers were based at MedImmune, including the sole denied worker.
5 Genzyme had 52 certified workers, 4 certified-withdrawn, 1 withdrawn, and 1 denied. Sanofi had 22 certified, 3 certified-withdrawn, 2 withdrawn, and 2 denied.
6 Genentech had 105 certified workers, 2 certified-withdrawn, 4 withdrawn, and 2 denied. Roche had 10 certified, and 2 certified-withdrawn 

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