Too Many Employers Scamming The H1-B Program?

from the not-a-good-sign dept

Generally speaking, the concept of the H1-B visa system is a good one. The US needs as many skilled technology workers as they can get, and the H1-B is designed to let skilled technology and science workers come and work for US companies for a period of six years. One of the big complaints by people who dislike the H1-B program is that it is used to bring in "cheap" labor. The response, of course, is that if it's used to bring in cheap labor, it's being misused. The terms of an H1-B are clear that the employer needs to be paying the prevailing wage rate for H1-B recipients. Of course, it shouldn't be a surprise that companies look to abuse the system, and a new study suggests that, in fact, many companies are abusing the system by paying H1-B holders much less than comparable jobs held by American citizens. Of course, those who hate the H1-B program will immediately use this as evidence as to why the program should be scrapped. However, that's the wrong response. First, they need to separate out the abuse of the program from the program itself. Even if abuse is widespread, that doesn't mean the concept is a bad one. However, more importantly, the same folks who seem to be so against the H1-B program also seem to be against offshoring. Yet, if US companies aren't bringing these skilled workers over to the US to help them here, guess what they'll be doing? You got it: they'll be working for even less money overseas. What should be encouraged is getting the best employees working on good projects to help the overall economy grow -- no matter what the nationality or location of the employees may be.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Andre, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 12:09pm

    H1B Visas

    As someone who has worked with H1B visa employees for years at a number of different companies, I can tell you that MOST companies cheat, not just a few. Most companies do the following to get around the intent and rules of H1B visas:
    1) Pay the H1B employee anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 less than the salary of a US employee.
    2) Re-classify a senior level position (Analyst, Senior Engineer) to an entry-level position (Programmer) to allow them to pay the lowest possible wage. The labor department rules allow this reclassification, even though it is cheating.
    3) Re-classify the H1B applicant to an L1 applicant to get around limits on the number of H1B applicants per year. There is no limitation on L1 visa applicants and are frequently used as 'pipelines' for companies to get in foreign workers quickly.

     

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  2.  
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    Howard, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 12:22pm

    No Subject Given

    The major point of abuse is the restriction on sponsorship. The H1-b victim, upon finding that he has been misled and/or lied to about the employment details, such as expected working hours and/or compensation, is unable to remedy the situation by changing employers. His/her *only* recourse is to return home. BTW, I have personally worked in an illegal H1-b sweatshop.

     

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  3.  
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    Howard, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 12:31pm

    How to spot abuse of H1-B

    If you see a long-winded ad in a national magazine describing a job position in gorey detail, with 10 to 15 specific inflexible requirements for a job paying less than you would expect for meeting those requirements, along with a phrase resembling "experience in the position", you are looking at an ad intended to "qualify" a person already in the job by "proving" that no other "qualified" applicant is available, or to "justify" using H1-b workers. It is the hallmark of a company abusing the H1-b system. I have written to magazines like InfoWorld numerous times to complain of this sort of abuse, to which they turn a deaf ear.

     

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  4.  
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    Arlin J. Wallace, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 12:37pm

    H-1B Program

    In the job-starved market that is prevailing in the U.S., why would we (tax payers) be putting tax dollars toward bringing workers from other countries. Why not instead, use those dollars to train and educate workers from the U.S. America does not protect it's own anymore. Globalism, anyone?

     

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  5.  
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    kgene, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 1:10pm

    H1B Program

    In my experience the worst cheaters of the system are the consulting companies who employ H1B employees em mass and use them all over the country as consultants. They travel without any objections, work insane hours (10-14 hours a day is not an unheard of workload), no overtime is paid to them and nobody every complains. Slaves anyone, America, (the freest and most democratic country in the world)? Many of them get paid something around $10-20/hour for doing rather very skilled work. And guess what? The clients, including state agencies, don't mind.

     

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  6.  
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    Wireless Guy, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 1:11pm

    Re: H-1B Program

    The issue here isn't about a job starved market. This is basically outsourcing positions to people willing to get paid what people can afford to pay for jobs no one wants to do. Consulting is one of these, and in wireless 80-90% of people doing contract work are H1-B. My old company waited for months until the slots opened up, then pulled in 20 people from India to work as contractors. They tried to hire people in the mean time, but no one is willing to do contract work at the current rates when the projects are two months here, three months there.

    This to me is the same problem as call centers. People in this country are just not willing to perform in a job where they get basically yelled at 8 hours a day for $10 an hour.

    It is sad to say, but unless Americans are willing to work harder for less money, others from overseas will gladly come over and take these jobs. Yes there are the companies that abuse the system, but no more than what the law basically allows. McCain has struggled for years to get this changed, but there just is no backing from organizations/industry who are desperate to get low/mid scale people working so they can stay competitive in this tight market economy.

    K2

     

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  7.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 25th, 2005 @ 1:11pm

    Re: H-1B Program

    In the job-starved market that is prevailing in the U.S., why would we (tax payers) be putting tax dollars toward bringing workers from other countries. Why not instead, use those dollars to train and educate workers from the U.S. America does not protect it's own anymore. Globalism, anyone?

    This isn't an either/or situation. Yes, better training and education is necessary. But, at the same time, denying that there are incredibly smart and skilled workers from elsewhere can be even more damaging to US companies. Helping them work for US companies is an overall positive.

    Also, I'm not clear what tax dollars have to do with the H1-B program... This isn't about subsidizing companies to hire foreign workers. Just about letting them work here.

     

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  8.  
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    J to the A, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 1:27pm

    Re: H-1B Program

    I agree the program is broken and needs to be looked at. However, I do not believe the job market is restricted; we have way more jobs in some industries than we have people for. Case in point is a large telecommunications place I worked at has literally 400+ Indians working in one building. If they were to all leave, there is no way we could fill that anytime soon with Americans, let alone ones as highly qualified with advanced degrees like they have. I'm in the industry, and I've never had a problem finding a job. Mix most H1's requirements of higher education with their inherent ability to be nomadic and they will take most jobs. I've moved cities several times for various positions, which still shocks some people (Americans) who find it odd to follow a job. You'd think with today's technology you could live anywhere, but I find the trend lending advantage to people who are more flexible in where they live.
    I see people all the time that complain about not being able to find a job in their little town and point to outsourcing, while there are 20 openings at my company 50 miles away. If you are going to restrict yourself to a radius around your house, and there is nothing wrong with that, but you have to understand that it is you who are not will to adapt and make the move to support your family. These people on H1s have moved across the world, many leaving their families, to a place that doesnít speak their language.
    Now when I say broken, I mean we have to find a way to keep the money in this country. I know dozens of Indians who eat ramen and drink tap water everyday because they are sending their entire paychecks back to India. This is a disaster, that money is supposed to be going back in to our economy. And since we have this problem, I donít mind so much the prospect of outsourcing, since the money is leaving America anyway, why not just pay them less and keep them over there. Iíve imported items before and been taxed on it, they money should be terrified the same way.
    And one last thing, to the comment about training Americans, there are mega-bucks sitting, waiting, for Americans to take and train with, but the demand just isnít there. The government isnít (and shouldnít) be in the game of hunting people down and training them. These people with H1s have worked their ass off to learn, and some of the places they come from certainly arenít the educational hotspots of the worldÖ

     

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  9.  
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    Bryan Price, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 1:32pm

    Let's summarize, shall we.

    We have less jobs now in a supposedly growing economy.
    We also have lower raises than the the average American, of which even that average is arguably less than the rate of inflation. Of course, if you don't eat or drive, inflation's no problem. Oh my, yes, you do have to eat, and with a nation built on the premise that owning and driving a car is a right (Supreme Court decisions notwithstanding) it is at least extremely difficult to not drive.

     

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  10.  
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    H-1B Holder, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 1:45pm

    Crap...

    Guys, its all depend on your talent, how good you are and how much the company wants you. Luckily, I can say that not only Iím making as H-1b Required, i'm actually making 200% more than the average salary for my profession. So give me a break. If you are "not the best there is" don't expect to get paid the same as others. Appreciate what this country gives you and shut up.

     

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  11.  
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    Andre, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Crap...

    H-1B Holder...
    In your case, it may be talent, but in most cases it is strictly cost (salary). Everyone knows that hiring H-1B workers is hiring the 'fast food' of IT personnel; quick, cheap and not of particularly good quality! Most companies are willing to turn a blind eye to the long-term quality issues in order to achieve the perceived short-term cost savings. I have worked with hundreds of H-1B workers and very few of them could match a local US worker; not because of lack of technical talent, but because of complete lack of experience or business knowledge and holding the 'slash and burn' mindset most consultanting companies promote. Already the tidal shift is changing. Gartner now says that over 50% of projects with offshore or H-1B workers fail and the failed numbers are increasing. Eventually, a balance will be found where H-1B workers will be used as was originally intended; that is a supplemental resource and not a replacement resource. Until that time, it will be very painful in this country for white-collar workers (i.e. long-term white-collar unemployment is at an all-time high).

     

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  12.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 25th, 2005 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Crap...

    Everyone knows that hiring H-1B workers is hiring the 'fast food' of IT personnel; quick, cheap and not of particularly good quality!

    Everyone huh? That hasn't been my experience at all. The H1-Bs I've known and worked with have been some of the brightest minds around. So, everyone has different experiences -- maybe we should avoid the generalizations.

     

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  13.  
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    Andy, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 3:53pm

    I'm not sure that what they describe is really abu

    It seems to me that all that hiring an H1B worker says is that they can't find local employees _at the salary they're prepared to offer_. That is, I thought the whole point of the H1B program was to lower wages-- the fear being that without it, wages would become so high that American companies would be unable to compete and thus the jobs would go away entirely.

     

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  14.  
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    TheIndianAgenda, Oct 26th, 2005 @ 8:01am

    No More Indians

    At the rate it's going now in 50 to 100 years Indians("Asians" 80% Indians) will be the #1 minority in this country. When they do all come they're gonna own us all. Well look at every small business in the big cities now. Dunkin Donuts, Subway, gas stations.....all Indian owned. They come over on visas as doctors, nurses, dentists, tech workers, engineers......all big money occupations that maybe 1 of the 4 million working American people without healthcare could be trained or schooled to do. A lot are probably already qualified but don't come at the dirt cheap price that an H1b worker does so the won't get the job. And let's not fool ourselves or let these 1 per 100,00 cases of H1b's that get paid more fool us. They are here because they are far cheaper for big business to employ...period. With every other wave of immigration into this country the immigrants had to work their way up from the bottom. I guess I'm just jealous that a bunch a Indians just coming into this country are having it handed to them on a silver platter. We all should just stand at the damn airport and greet them off the plane from India....."hello, welcome the the U.S. here's a great paying job that an American got layed off from that you can have because the company can pay you a lot less....but it won't matter to you because you still will get more than the previous American worker got because you won't have to pay taxes for 7 YEARS and in your country you are a king if you 30,000 a year. That's right these people DO NOT pay taxes for 7 YEARS and they NEVER go back to India. The Indian population has grown from like 20,000 ten years ago to about 300,000 just around the Chicago metro area! Can you imagine having 7 tax free years to build your future? Why are we giving the American dream to Indians?
    I could give a flying $#!@ if these Indians are more educated than the workers they are replacing. They have over 1 billion people in their country and we are getting the best of the best coming over to take our jobs and open up businesses( some with government grant money!). Over 1 billion! If we took in the best of the best Chinese they'd all be better qualified than us too. China won't let them all come thank god. I don't give a rats $@# how educated they are. We don't have enough AMERICANS with middle and upper class jobs. 44 million working middle class without healthcare. Why the hell are we bringing these people over here to take these jobs?.....Big Business GREED. If it means a choice between a business staying here or moving to India, I say move it there....it will fail there let's face it...or it would already be there. Big Business needs the Americans to clean up the H1B's mess. They are not as skilled. 80-90% of their so called "qualifications" are bogus info made up in India to be able to get the U.S. job. Why aren't all companies overseas? It's cheaper and those countries have more qualified labor. Because who's buying all the products in this world? We are!!
    Indians will own a significant portion of this country's businesses and be the #1 minority inside of 50 to 100 years at the current rate. I guarantee you this. Trust me we don't want this. They are here to rape us financially and send the money back to India where they have mansions with full waitstaff.
    If you wanna see an agenda open your eyes and pay attention. Pay close attention to the Indian agenda in this country going on right now. For whatever reason these people are coming and they will be the #1 minority in 50 to 100 years. You are being conditioned to accept this by the media. Pay close attention to commercials, movies, and TV. They are being worked into the Amercian consciousness. Those dark people in all those commercials aren't Hispanic, they're Indian. They aren't being cast as terrorists....they are being cast as good, funny, upstanding Americans. The Umpa Loompa in Charlie and the Chocolate factory was Indian. Anybody see the 40 year old Virgin? The girlfriend that the guy keeps talking about the whole movie long that was so awesome and hot. I got this vision of some totally hot little blonde. Well when the chick is finally shown it's this ugly Indian chick!? Totally ugly. She was completely unnecessary. As was the Indian workers in his Best Buy.....we needed those guys to be Indian? VH1 has an Indian hosting the Top 20 countdown ...I saw him kissing on Jennifer Love Hewitt. MTV probably has Indians strewn all about it too...I don't know I don't watch MTV.
    There has been an Indian in practically every new movie I've seen in the past year. The parts they have or the camera time they get is TOTALLY unnecessary for the movie's plot. They are there to condition us. They get parts that make them seem like you'd want these fine people in our country. Unlike Mexicans who the media conditions Americans to hate as a whole. Mexicans get cast as gang members or janitors. We're not in feel good movies like "Bend it like Beckham" or "Bride and Prejudice". You are not supposed to root for a Mexican, you are supposed to want them to go back to Mexico. Which by the way will never happen. The vigilantes you see that are supposedly trying to keep Mexicans out are really making it easier to get in. They trip the alarms that send the Immigration cops running to this spot...meanwhile Mexicans go through easily at this other spot. The vigilantes are a ruse. They will never stop letting Mexicans in...they need the workers. Have they ever laid off a McDonald's? H1B's kept their does in tech while Americans got laid off. Oh..and the American government needs the billions of dollars that illegals pay in taxes each year through phony SS#s. That's right I said billions. They have to make up for the 7 years tax free the Indians get when they come to this country. 7 YEARS!!!
    If you're really smart you can put the Mexican and Indian situations together and figure out what I believe is the endgame of the elite rulers of this country.
    *Thank you come again!*

     

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  15.  
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    Michael Kohne, Oct 26th, 2005 @ 7:49pm

    H1B is still a bad idea

    No matter what you think of the abuse angle (and I think it's a bloody tragedy), I can't see how you can think that an H1B visa is a good idea. You're bringing a presumably smart person into this country, letting them work, then MAKING THEM LEAVE. That's stupid. We should be trying to get all the smart people to come here and STAY. Become citizens. Raise families of smart children. THAT's what we need - not temps!

     

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  16.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 26th, 2005 @ 10:29pm

    Re: H1B is still a bad idea

    Well, the truth is that that's exactly what does happen. A lot of H1Bs eventually do apply for citizenship. I agree with you that focusing on making them citizens is an excellent idea -- but the H1B process is at least a start.

     

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  17.  
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    TheIndianAgenda, Oct 26th, 2005 @ 11:52pm

    Re: H1B is still a bad idea

    Sure let them all stay and take all the good paying jobs from Americans. They are no smarter than us...just cheaper to employ. Leave the low paying jobs to the Americans. Don't make any of these people citizens. You people would sell out Americans for corporate America? Keep lying to yourselves and us by saying they are so wonderful and talented. Sell outs. They would not do the same for you. They are all about sticking together. We're the only country stupid enough to let foreigners take our best paying jobs. It's very sad. There is no hope for us.

     

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  18.  
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    John, Oct 27th, 2005 @ 12:27am

    Re: H1B is still a bad idea

    To TheIndianAgenda:

    Might I ask what your heritage is? At some point, your ancestors came to America too. Why is it any different with Indians coming now?

     

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  19.  
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    TheIndianAgenda, Oct 29th, 2005 @ 10:11am

    Re: H1B is still a bad idea

    This isn't about immigration is it? If it is, then I'm sure you're in favor of letting all the Mexicans come over right? I'll bet you aren't.
    When an Indian takes a job from you or someone you love I'm sure you'll then be against them coming here too. 80-90% come here with fake qualifications. There is no system in place to do anything about fraud. Big business is laying off higher paid Americans to replace them with low-paid Indians. They do not deserve to be here. There are 4 million working AMERICANS without healthcare. And you want to let more Indians immigrate to America?
    When my ancestors immigrated to America they did not take jobs from Americans. You are an idiot if you don't see the difference. Because of attitudes like yours, the only American dream that will be attainable for some of our children and children's children will be lower middle class or lower class. I sincerely hope in the future that you or your child is displaced in the job market permanently by an Indian.

     

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  20.  
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    TheIndianAgenda, Oct 31st, 2005 @ 9:56am

    Re: H1B is still a bad idea

     

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  21.  
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    TheIndianAgenda, Oct 31st, 2005 @ 10:01am

    Re: H1B is still a bad idea

     

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  22.  
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    MF, Nov 3rd, 2005 @ 5:30pm

    Re: H-1B Program

    "It is sad to say, but unless Americans are willing to work harder for less money, others from overseas will gladly come over and take these jobs." WHAT!!! That shouldn't be their or an American corporation's prerogative. We don't owe jobs to non-Americans - Period. If a company wants to setup shop in another country, more power to them. STOP perpetuating the myth that Americans won't do the job. If you kind find someone to sniff armpits (yes there is a job for that) you can fill any job, for the right price. I could make millions if I was allowed to use slaves. Thatís all the greedy corporations like Microsoft are asking for Ė legalized slavery.

     

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  23.  
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    MF, Nov 3rd, 2005 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Crap...

    We really don't care if you are the greatest. That is not the point. The point is we don't owe you a job. Go home, make your own country great.

     

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  24.  
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    Adil Faizee, Nov 9th, 2005 @ 9:22am

    Re: No More Indians

    First of All- hello, hope you are having a nice time. With all your limited knowledge, such article from you is completely acceptable.
    Please read more on the internet before making any comments.
    Dont act like a typical arrogant American, sticking to what he knows and saying no to learn something.
    Indians are sucessful in this country not for the reason they are getting subidized by the congress, but for the mere reason they are smart then your dumb ass. They love this country as much as you do. They apperciate this country more than you do, thats why this country gives them more than what your dumb ass gets.
    So please be more considerate and Dont be jealous on somebody's sucess when all you can do is complain rather than compete.
    Thanks
    Have a nice Day

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Rob, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 6:07pm

    H1B workers

    You are dead right it is time to open up the opportunities globally, H1B workers are not looking to be paid low wages. They are looking for an opportunity to earn a good living, see America, meet the people understand the culture and even create an American family.
    If you stop people comming in American business people send it overseas, so they can reduce costs. India and China are the main countries to outsource to, but eventually it will be a different one.
    Please let more in and change the H1B to allow those people to work for themselfves like any other worker.
    America will prosper and those workers will prosper.

     

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  26.  
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    Som Rao, May 18th, 2007 @ 10:01am

    H1 contractors

    If anybody says H1 contractors are always qualified than local candidates in a bogus. Several H1 contractors write bogus resumes, bogus experience and bogus degrees. Hiring companies do not check references; they believe the contract companies. The contract companies coach the candidates for a month on interviews and get them in.

     

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  27.  
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    suchi, May 22nd, 2007 @ 11:19am

    Re: No More Indians

    Hey I am not sure if you are aware that any professional who comes on a legal H1 B visa has to pay all the taxes that an American citizen or permanent resident has to. Of course illegal immigrants don't have to! Moreover, they don't get any benefit against their social security till they become at least permanent residents which takes at least 7 yrs. So for 7 yrs they pay taxes but don't get any benefit of SS but of course they enjoy the rest of it - property, roads, facilities, etc.
    "If you're really smart you can put the Mexican and Indian situations together and figure out what I believe is the endgame of the elite rulers of this country." - completely agree with you on this.

     

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  28.  
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    Tom, Dec 15th, 2007 @ 12:56pm

    Jobs Americans wont do

    Capitalism is great, until you have to pay a fair wage to employees, then the BIG BUSINESS whine for CHEAP labor. Yes CHEAP. I am a fifth generation American ex-engineer. I left the field as too many incompetent H1b and L1 visa holder's lowered the wages to that of a McDonald's employee. They lie on resumes and pirate software tools. My Grandfather fought and died for this country. Now I train my REPLACEMENT indentured servant to use the software I wrote to do my job. Now I actively discourage any American from entering Computer Science or Engineering.

    Correct me if I'm wrong:

    1) Real wages for Engineers are down.

    2) labor statistics report Ex-Engineers driving a truck as employed.

    3) The law of supply and demand applies to labor: more H1B's = less demand for American workers = lower wages = less Americans going into field= business whining for more H1b's ...

    4 ) When you compete with slaves you are one.

     

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  29.  
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    Harsha, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    H1-B a case of supply meets demand

    I can't really empathize with some of the people here but Hey! I can certainly imagine how I would feel if people coming from overseas stole my job. I've been in this country for almost 7 years now and have been following the whole gamut of reactions about the H1-B program. We all have our personal takes on this issue which are hardly unequivocal. Where I am trying get at is, it is very necessary that we strip ourselves from a lot of sentiments that unknowingly find way into our most unbiased views. This indeed will be very tough to do if one has actually suffered a loss in some way by virtue of this issue (the H1B Program).
    We can't help but agree that things stick around in America for a reason. I am sure the Mcdonalds and the Burger Kings would be the first one's to be banned if this was not true. The H1-B program might be a whole different problem but it very simply and practically has the same reasons behind it's existence like others mentioned above do.
    The economy of this country needs more resources. Advancements in technologies in the last 10 years has put forth a huge need or resources in the form of engineers and analysts. The resources produced by the US alone is in no way proportionate with the demand. Why was the US not able to produce the resources? The answer lies in the fact that American culture and the economy doesn't force the youth of this country to only choose professions like Engineering or Medical Sciences. Asian countries tend to put more emphasis on mathematical or analytical studies unlike the US where equal emphasis is put on creative thinking.
    The point here is, introduction of the H1B-program is just a case of supply meeting demand but the abuse of it is totally unacceptable. Unacceptable to the citizens in the US and also to the people who are actually working on low wages under this program. Growing inflation in the US and the booming economies of the east are making tougher for people earning low wages to survive forget about them thriving.
    Finally, the solution lies in the hands of the US government on how they get around identifying and prosecuting abusers but scrapping the whole program would be a huge mistake which I am sure it is not planning on making.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    work hard for a living, May 3rd, 2010 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Re: H-1B Program

     

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