Law Firm Helps Give H-1B a Bad Name

Ann All

The latest recipient of a letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who reallywants to get to the bottom of this whole H-1B controversy about companies willfully scamming the system, is a Pittsburgh law firm whose attorneys told conference attendees how to skirt government requirements for an employment program.


The firm, Cohen & Grigsby, posted a video of the presentation online to promote the conference, reports BusinessWeek. It was promptly picked up by the president of the Programmers Guild, which opposes expansion of programs that make it easier for U.S. firms to export foreign workers, and posted on YouTube where, needless to say, plenty of folks have seen it.


Hey guys, last time we checked, the Internet was a public medium -- as many job seekers with colorful MySpace profiles have discovered the hard way. Let that be a lesson to the rest of us: Don't put anything online that you would hesitate to share with the world at large.


Unfortunately, boneheads like this make it harder for companies that can make legitimate good use of H-1B visas -- and yes, we think there are plenty of them out there.


The subject of the presentation, the Permanent Labor Certificate program (PERM), lets companies sponsor foreign workers for permanent residency if they are unable to fill positions with American employees. As outspoken H-1B critic Ron Hira (who had lots to say in our interview with him last month) notes in the BusinessWeek article, "What's disturbing about this from a public policy standpoint is that the PERM is supposed to be the gold standard. If you can circumvent those rules, it begs the question of what's going on elsewhere."

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Jun 27, 2007 2:59 AM Roy Lawson Roy Lawson  says:
How can you state with confidence in regards to companies that use the H-1b program in a positive way that there are "plenty of them out there".I can't say that there aren't ethical users of the H-1b - I suspect there are. However, data indicates that the average IT worker in the H-1b program is paid much less than American workers. If the good users of the H-1b program outnumbered the bad, the average pay for H-1b workers would be higher than American workers. After all, this program is intended for those with "special" skills. And as we all know people with "special" skills tend to be paid more.Finally, the DOL and USCIS too closely guards use of the H-1b program data. It took two US Senators to get the data we currently have in regards to H-1b and L1 visa sponsors. Previously we relied on less reliable LCA data. It wasn't because we didn't ask for the more reliable data. We were denied on grounds of privacy.Because companies hide their use of the H-1b and L1 visa programs, until there is more sunshine on the use of this program we will never know the true nature of the program and which companies follow the spirit of the law.I can state with confidence that abuse in the H-1b program is systemic. There bad outweighs the good. We don't need to expand the H-1b program. We need to make it harder for the program to be abused. Reply
Jun 27, 2007 7:23 AM jgo jgo  says:
What Cohen & Grigsby were teaching their clients was legal. The fact that they repeated their points, and the way they repeated them, indicates that they full well knew that what they were doing wasn't quite the nice thing to do.The followup comments from the American Immigration Lawyers Association suggest that even if it were against the letter of the law, many of them would want to continue arbitrarily rejecting capable American applicants.We long suspected that this was going on. Seeing the proof and hearing from other sheisters that they believe such slimey behavior is fine is what's significant. Reply
Jun 27, 2007 9:27 AM S. Eng S. Eng  says:
"There are plenty of them out there" ?How do you know? I've been working in the engineering field for the last 15 years and I've seen blatent disregard for American workers by management. There is a class war going on this countr.: The Rich CEOs and the middle class. Get with the program and start reporting for Americans. DO NOT assume there is any ethics in business today. It is all about shifting profits away from the middle-class Americans and into the pockets of the rich and powerful.You are obviously unaware of the magnitude of this abuse. I doubt that you will encourage your son or daughter to be an engineer today. Reply
Jun 28, 2007 4:37 AM Colleen Colleen  says:
The minimum expectation I have of my Senators is to produce an Immigration Process which GUARANTEES EEO, Equal Employment Opportunity the law of the land.The Senators (and AILA who write this stuff for their own personal And commercial profit) have failed miserably in this endeavor as demonstrated in the "Fake Job Ads" video on YouTube, The Immigration Bill continues to discriminates against those whose National Origin = USA and Age >40.AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTENational Leaders of American Civil Rights Institute Sign Open Letter to Congress Notice the word "Merit"...Merit = Education Level + Experience.Now, remember that Merit System in the Senate Immigration Bill?That so called Merit System awards points for Age less than 40.Well, that is not a "Merit System" that is Institutionalized Age Discrimination.FRONTPAGE MAGAZINE:The Preferences Are Coming;Twelve Million of Them COMMENTARY FROM A GOVERNMENT LCA OFFICE EMPLOYEE:This article's URL is None at all commented on Jun 19, 2007 For 30 years I worked in the labor certification program at the state level.Our job was to assist the employer in making a good faith effort to recruit and hire a US worker.It did not take me long to realize how crooked most immigration attorneys were.They earned big fees to help employers get out of admitting that there was a US worker available who was qualified.The job descriptions they whipped up often did not exist or carried such strange requirements that no American would qualify.They would advertise in publications that no one truly desirous of locating an American worker would advertise in.The Department of Labor, which ruled on the quality of the advertising usually paid no attention to any of the obvious misrepresentations in the certification applications and its requirements and conditions.They rarely challenged any of the rejections of US workers.There were many occasions when employers would reject over one hundred US workers who applied for a job by stating that the workers were not qualified, failed to show up for appointments, etc., etc.On rare occasions, when the rejected US workers were contacted and provided information that contradicted the employer (his attorney, actually), the employer would withdraw the application and re-file it, hoping for a better set of circumstances later.Many attorneys actually represent the alien, who pays for the employer's advertising and expenses.Sometimes they have even interviewed the US workers who were referred to the job they hold.The alien labor certification system is corrupt from the top to the bottom, even more so now that the applications are reviewed by a computer.It is time for people to realize that program, and other immigration programs being proposed, are just part of an overall scheme to load up our country with low- and lesser skilled workers.I have worked with prior immigration programs where aliens had to document their past work experience here, their qualifications, and their attachment to the labor market. Reply
Jun 28, 2007 4:38 AM Colleen Colleen  says:
I have never seen so much fraud.New programs will just make more attorneys and document fraudsters richer and richer.Our country is selling out the middle class, and from what I can see, it is too late for us to survive the onslaught.We will be a third world country in no time."None at all" commented on Jun 20, 2007 10:30:36 PM As I indicated in an earlier post, I worked in the labor certification program in the state labor office in California for 30 years.Employers who advertised for US workers prior to filing the alien's labor certification application would file the application with a request that required advertising be waived based on the fact that they had advertised already and had found no qualified workers.The Department of Labor would accept this statement despite the fact that the alien showed no special skills.For example, an employer advertised for a Market Research Analyst, stating that a BS degree in business was required.The recruitment results would state that no qualified US worker applied.This was a lie.There were always US workers available with business degrees, even with foreign language ability.Another misrepresentation is that an ordinary business degree does not equip one to do true market research work.DOL would not question this, not the fact that the alien had only a basic degree.Often the jobs would be in small businesses where the alien would be working for a company that had only a handful of employees.When we had the opportunity to really study the job offer and the business we would often find that the alien was the owner of the company, or a relative, or maybe had even paid the employer to offer him the job.I remember studying one attorney who was savvy enough to locate failing businesses whom he contacted with an offer to locate an alien with money who would bail out the company in exchange for a green card for the alien.The attorney took a 30K share for his effort.How about the half dozen heating companies in the Los Angeles area who found just the right aliens to install furnaces in residences.The job duties were that the alien would dismantle coal and wood burning furnaces in LA area homes and change them into gas furnaces.What?Coal and wood furnaces in LA?These were totally bogus jobs.They did not exist.Looking at a different aspect, I often would see the resumes of US workers (a US/American worker is a citizen or permanent residentalien) who had applied for the job through a post office box that was controlled by the labor department staff who would then forward the applications to the employers.That's where the attorneys earned their money - ingeniously rejecting American workers.It was heartbreaking to read some of those resumes.The American workers thought they were really applying for a job.They would pour their hearts out to the employer, pleading for a chance at the job, showing how qualified they were and how they would be a benefit to the company.Read 20 or 30 or up to a hundred of those resumes and then process the application knowing that the alien would get the nod from the Department of Labor who would believe the employer (read attorney) before believing US workers.It was sickening.Attorneys had all sorts of tricks on how to dump US workers while making DOL think they were actually making a good faith recruitment effort.I remember seeing a letter from an attorney that was accidentally submitted to the state in an application for certification.The letter advised the employer that the regulations required that he "post" the job notice on his premises so that others at the site could see that .an opening was available. Reply
Jun 28, 2007 4:38 AM Colleen Colleen  says:
The employer, however, could get around that requirement by poking a pin through the top of the notice, and submitting the original notice with the hole in it as proof that the job was posted.That attorney got his knuckles rapped - but I'm sure that he was not the only one doing it.Although the recruitment factor was not involved with the temporary applications, many of these jobs are bogus too, and they generally lead to a permanent labor certification application, with a green card at the end of the process.There have been a number of incidents of attorneys and immigration consultants prosecuted and convicted for labor certification fraud and misrepresentation.You can find them on Google, using key words.Even the US DOL's Inspector General's site mentions a few, but information on this is almost always kept secret.This program is hopeless.I have tried to call much of this to the attention of my senators and Department of Labor officials, to no avail.I hate to use the word conspiracy - but there is a conspiracy to pack this country with aliens, and the labor certification program is doing its part. Reply
Jun 28, 2007 9:27 AM Anonymous Anonymous  says:
it is not legal.It is discrimination on the basis of national origin (no US citizens need to apply, and if they do, we'll find any reason we can to not hire them)It is perpetuating fraud (posting fake job ads)It violates immigration law (no good faith effort)So that is a lie you posted.The law firm only is telling the truth. The USA is no place for technology workers. Reply
Jun 28, 2007 9:28 AM Anonymous Anonymous  says:
US workers should file a class action lawsuit against this law firm and their clients. Reply
Jun 28, 2007 12:13 PM American IT worker American IT worker  says:
This is criminal and outrageous. This is a high act of treason from congress. Write or call your congressman. Be outraged. Lets fire them and put then in jail for high treason. Reply
Jul 11, 2007 11:51 AM Kimi Kimi  says:
I understand what are you worrying about, however here some facts from another side of the coin:I am not from IT (!) and recently I had 3 job interviews, 1st round with HR. All interviews were finished just after I said that I would need H1B visa... On my opinion, after last changes in visa regulations companies don't want bother themselves with H1B "lottery". Maybe I am not right. Good luck. Reply
Jul 23, 2007 12:16 PM jeffbl jeffbl  says:
Baby boomers are going to retire in the next 10 years.The current population structure won't be able to meet the labor demand from the economy. More plants or offices will be open in China or India. Money will be shifted there too. Just like today's Europe. Without H1B workers, more and more high-tech jobs will be shipped abroad. Meanwhile, illegal immigrants won't leave this country. Imagine how the prospect of the country looks.The reason this country has very high competence partly lies in its openness to the intelligent. Reply

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