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H-1B Visa Quagmire Redux

by on12 March 2008

U.S. Senator alleges fraud

We reported yesterday that Bill Gates was going to testify before Congress on Wednesday March 12th to lobby for the issuance of more H-1B visas and the elimination of the cap on the number of H-1B visas that are issued. 

Apparently, we weren’t the only ones concerned about this. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has written a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff (you may recall his name from the Hurricane Katrina/NewOrleans debacle), citing abuses in the current enforcement of the H-1B visa program.

Further, Grassley alleged that the abuses have resulted in a veritable underground economy in the purchase and sale of fraudulent visas and the “leasing” of foreign workers by contractors who do not have work for these hires. Grassley claims that the Bush Administration is not enforcing the H-1B program according to regulations, and called on Secretary Chertoff to state what he is going to do about the abuses.

The letter was sent to the Homeland Security Secretary in advance of Bill Gates’ visit to Capitol Hill.  Senator Grassley’s Web site, contains the entire post. In part, it reads, “The H-1B visa program was created to serve American employers who need high-tech workers.  It was created to fill a void in the labor force. 

The visa holders were intended to fill jobs for a temporary amount of time while the country invested in American workers to pick up the skills needed. The program may be beneficial to some businesses, but it’s even better for companies based outside the U.S. 

The fact is most H-1B visas are going to foreign based companies.  U.S. businesses that need highly skilled workers are getting the short end of the stick. Americans are seeing ruthless tactics by some companies to bring in foreign workers, pay them less, and increase their bottom line.”

He went on to state, “The Programmer’s Guild, a group representing U.S. worker interests, filed over 300 discrimination complaints in the first half of 2006 against companies who posted ‘H-1B visa holders only’ ads on job boards.  It’s obvious that they are targeting foreign workers and undermining the system by bypassing the American worker. 

These firms are making a commodity out of H-1B workers. They have individuals with visas, but lack the work for them to do. It’s supposed to be the other way around. There should be a need, first and foremost. Then, we allow foreign workers to fill the void and do the jobs temporarily. While the H-1B visa program is in need of statutory changes, the program would benefit from administrative changes. It could also benefit from increased oversight and enforcement from your Department.”

Senator Grassley has proposed legislation to the U.S. Congress (S. 1035) that will reform this program as well as assess how the Department of Homeland Security can better use its existing power to make positive change to benefit the high tech industry and all highly skilled workers.

We’ll be watching for the outcome on this one.

Last modified on 12 March 2008
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