Senators Take on Big Corporations About Misuse of H-1B Visas (You know, the Ones Cornyn Loves!)Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


Senators Take on Big Corporations About Misuse of H-1B Visas (You know, the Ones Cornyn Loves!)

16 May 2007 at 8:10:19 PM

What's the issue here? That there are corporations that have been crying in their beer that there aren't enough H-1B Visas to bring foreign workers into the United States (because, the story goes, American Workers Are Not Trained Up To Do These Jobs).  But actually, and this will be no surprise to anyone who isn't sleeping in the back of a turnip truck, the foreign workers get PAID LESS. The worst of it, though, is that some companies are alleged to be using the H-1b Visas to bring foreign workers to the US, train them while they're here and then send them BACK to the other country to work, as an OUTSOURCED worker for a corporation on the cheap.

In letter mailed to the companies Monday, Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wrote: “We have been concerned about reported fraud and abuse of the H-1B and L visa programs, and their impact on American workers. We are also concerned that the program is not being used as Congress intended.”

The companies in question used some 20,000, or 30%, of the 65,000 H-1B’s issued this year. The letter, posted on Grassley's Web site, were addressed to Infosys, Wipro, Tata, Saytam, Patni Systems, Larsen & Toubro, I-Flex, Tech Mahindra Americas and Mphasis. Federal law makes 65,000 H-1B visas are available each year for workers in such specialty fields as computer programmers, engineers, architects, accountants, doctors, college professors and fashion models. Another 20,000 visas are available for foreign workers with at least a master's degree from a U.S. college or university.

The high-tech industry has long complained that too few visas are available. Microsoft, for example, has long been a proponent of increasing the H-1B limit. The Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), whose backers include Apple, Dell, eBay and Intel, last year asked that the cap be raised to 115,000.

Business Week has more on the allegations.

Critics say outsourcing firms, including Infosys Technologies (INFY) and Wipro (WIT), are using the visas to replace U.S. employees with foreign workers, often cycling overseas staff through U.S. training programs before sending them back into jobs at home. The lawmakers are intent on probing whether those allegations are accurate. "Supporters claim the goal of the H-1B program is to help the American economy by allowing U.S. companies to hire needed foreign workers," Durbin said in a statement. "The reality is that too many H-1B visas are being used to facilitate the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries."

....evidence on the H-1B visa program paints a contrasting picture. As BusinessWeek first reported in February, Indian outsourcing companies have become by far the most active applicants for H-1B visas (see, 2/8/07, "Work Visas May Work Against the U.S."). The data, just then released, showed that seven of the top 10 applicants for H-1Bs in fiscal 2006 were Indian outsourcers, led by Infosys and Wipro. ...

The senators say they want to ensure temporary worker programs can't be used to take advantage of American workers. "Considering the high amount of fraud and abuse in the visa program, we need to take a good, hard look at the employers who are using H-1B visas and how they are using them," says Grassley.

The letters probe a number of areas, including whether workers brought into the U.S. on H-1B visas are paid less that comparable American workers, a disparity that could drive down overall wages. The senators ask whether the visas are being used to train people in jobs that will later be moved back to India or other countries. And they request data on American workers who may have been laid off as H-1B workers have been hired.

How do the Senators propose to fix this? By, first, making firms have to hire Americans FIRST before going for a foreign worker, and second, by paying foreign workers the same as Americans. (Don't you wish they had the same feelings about FIRST for America when it comes to, um, our ROADS????)

What's kind of sick about this is that it isn't only foreign Indian companies trying to game the system.

Among the most active applicants for H-1B visas are Accenture (ACN) and Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH). Both are officially headquartered in the U.S., but they have extensive outsourcing operations in India.

Why am I not surprised to see Accenture on this list?

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