A New H-1B Wind Is Blowing, and It’s a Destructive Force for the Bad Guys

Don Tennant

Just a month after six people were indicted by a U.S. District Court in Texas on multiple charges related to H-1B visa fraud, a businessman in Silicon Valley last week was indicted on 19 counts of H-1B visa fraud following a multi-agency U.S. government investigation. The government’s crackdown on H-1B visa abuse is being accompanied by increased scrutiny of that abuse by the mainstream media, most recently in the form of a Boston Globe column that proclaimed that “outsourcers have hijacked the H-1B program.”

The Silicon Valley businessman, Balakrishnan Patwardhan, is accused of filing fraudulent documents with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to secure H-1B visas for 19 technology workers from India. According to a press release issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, the indictment alleges that Patwardhan filed the documents under the pretense that the 19 Indian workers had job offers from an employer in the United States, when he knew that no such offers existed. This practice of “benching”—illegally bringing in foreign workers on H-1B visas without legitimate job offers as a means of maintaining a bench of employees with which to fill job vacancies when they arise—is the same practice that was allegedly performed by Dibon Solutions, the IT consulting company involved in the case of the six people in Texas who were indicted a month ago.

The intense, systematic approach being taken by the U.S. government to hold abusers of the H-1B visa program accountable for their actions is highlighted by the multi-agency cooperation that characterizes the effort. The investigation of Patwardhan, for example, was led by the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service's representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, a multi-agency group headed by the Homeland Security Investigations unit of ICE. According to the press release, USCIS's Office of Fraud Detection and National Security was also a key player in the investigation. For what it’s worth, this is the same type of multi-agency investigation that was sparked by Jay Palmer’s whistleblower report of alleged visa and tax fraud at Infosys. The results of that investigation are imminent.

Meanwhile, the winds of change are also evident in the mainstream media’s better-late-than-never coverage of what for years has been wanton abuse of the H-1B visa program. Of particular note is an excellent March 31 column by Farah Stockman of the Boston Globe, with a sub-headline that captured the essence of the issue masterfully: “Hyped as source of tech talent, H-­1B visas usher in cheap replacements for US workers.” Here’s an excerpt from the column:

I am not a nativist. Immigration makes this country strong. But let’s dispense with the fiction that all temporary workers are living the American dream and doing work that Americans can’t do. H-1Bs should be for companies that want highly skilled foreigners to work for them, not for factory farms of entry-level laborers leased out to the highest bidder. We can’t allow them to make it impossible for firms that hire Americans to compete. What if, instead of increasing the number of H-1B visas, we gave citizenship more quickly to more highly skilled people? And what if, instead of harping on how unqualified Americans are for these jobs, we celebrated companies that train and hire Americans?

It seems just about every article on this topic refers to the Palmer case, and the Boston Globe piece was no exception:

While some temporary workers might be magical geniuses capable of saving the US economy, many are not. Jay Palmer, principal consultant for Infosys, describes in court documents how the company brought workers straight from school — “freshers” — who needed months, if not years, to get up to speed. Some were being paid in rupees sent to Indian bank accounts, according to Palmer’s lawyer, Kenneth Mendelsohn. He said they survived on a stipend paid through a debit card, as they worked for the oil-field services firm Baker Hughes in Texas. “Six or eight Indians were living in a two-bedroom apartment.”

When I started covering the Palmer case two years ago, I called it a “game changer.” It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the game has indeed changed. And that the team of bad guys who are abusing the H-1B visa program is going to lose.

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Apr 2, 2013 2:11 AM Vincent Vincent  says:
Don, the big guys that abuse the system the worst will continue to abuse the system and thrive. Just look at the criminal investigation from the Infosys case. The charges have basically been dropped from what I can tell. There is also about to be massive increase of the H-1b program . Unfortunately, the wind is still blowing in favor of the corrupt. But you are right, there has been more accurate media coverage concerning the H-1b. Reply
Apr 2, 2013 10:07 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to Vincent
I'm not sure what makes you think the government's criminal investigation of Infosys has faded away. Nothing could be further from the truth. Stay tuned. Reply
Apr 3, 2013 5:11 AM jake_leone jake_leone  says:
In 2012, more than half the H-1b visas were used by Offshore Outsourcing companies. In 2013, two-thirds of the H-1b visas applications have been submitted by Offshore Outsourcing companies. Prediction: any increase in the number of H-1b visas will be taken up by Offshore Outsourcing companies. These companies destroy jobs, and remove whole departments to overseas locations. How can we be so stupid as to allow this Job destroying government program to expand? The fact is our domestic Tech companies barely use the H-1b visa program. Why are our tech CEOs lobbying for an increase, they will never use? We have let the whining of a few tech CEOs (who want protection from the real free labor market), create and expand a Monster job-destroying government program, that is mostly used by Offshore Outsourcing companies. Reply
Apr 3, 2013 7:08 PM Odumbo Odumbo  says:
When I started covering the Palmer case two years ago, I called it a “game changer.” It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the game has indeed changed. And that the team of bad guys who are abusing the H-1B visa program is going to lose. Reply
Apr 4, 2013 12:47 PM Tania Tania  says:
Am experiencing first hand the challenges of h1B job search. As a highly skilled o/ seas IT professional, it is surprising to see what little opportunities thee are for H1b visa sponsorships. Most emoyers would basically say No to "aliens". Any information on how to break through., greatly appreciated. Reply
Apr 4, 2013 11:23 PM BT1024 BT1024  says:
Don, Please take a look at the following article: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2013/04/ask-the-headhunter-the-talent.html "While the economy has put massive numbers of talented workers on the street, HR nonetheless complains it can't find the workers it needs. That's no surprise when HR's idea of finding talent is to resort to database searches and keyword filtering, which are disastrously inadequate methods for finding and attracting the best hires." Reply
Apr 5, 2013 2:38 PM DaveKC DaveKC  says:
Can someone tell me *How a H1B consulting company states on O1 april to USCIS that they have three year Job available for an Alien starting October 01 that too for a client with a salary between 55000 to 75000. Why not for citizens ? How come most of H1B companies have just 5% citizens ( again Ex H1B) and 95% H1B working in their company. Reply
Apr 6, 2013 6:38 PM Wakjob Wakjob  says:
Yeah, these geniuses sure do make the US economy strong. 15 years of importing them have stronged ur right into the biggest recession in 70 years. Magic Indian Geniuses sure have saved the US economy. Biggest financial collapse in 70 years. Lehman, CountryWide, Citi, BofA, Merrill all of them hired large numbers of these faking desperate conmen from the 3rd world world before going BANKRUPT. Even GM. Yep. They sure are keeping us strong. Don, as a software developer of 16 years including former Apple and Sony employee, there are THOSUANDS of these kinds of Indian fraud companies in the US. I get emails from them every day begging for my resume. The USA is FLOODED with these conmen who are here only to grift out our $ from a desperate 3rd world country that will do anything for $. END H-1B and L-1 NOW. And I don't see the big mainstream media coverage you claim. One or 2 articles in main US newspapers is not mainstream coverage. I don't ever see this issue mentioned on US mainstream TV ever. Reply
Apr 6, 2013 6:40 PM Wakjob Wakjob  says: in response to Tania
Yeah right. Every IT shop in USA is flooded with foreign workers. No to Americans is more like it. Reply
Apr 6, 2013 8:47 PM NoMoreH1b NoMoreH1b  says:
Great article Don. What everyone else is now realizing, is that same thing that US STEM workers in the know, have been aware of for almost a decade, that H1b is pure poisonous crap for our economy, our tech professions and the quality of our tech industries. And yes, the big outsourcers and job-robbing companies have completely overrun the H1b guest/replacement worker program. Looks like it's the final act for the toxic H1b, time to let your reps know to put the last nail in the coffin of this horrible program - END H1B NOW!!! Reply
Apr 9, 2013 11:24 AM Dolores Dolores  says:
Meanwhile, in related news. I'm sure you've noticed how foreigners crow about how their students gaining admission to our universities is evidence of superiority, just as they used to crow about how them getting hired vs. us was evidence of something wrong with us. Here's an interesting take on the notion of stapling green cards ot diplomas: http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2013_04_05/caredit.a1300063 Reply
Apr 16, 2013 2:44 AM Indian-now-PHD Indian-now-PHD  says:
I would like to point out a couple of things which may only be tangentially related. a) I have to agree that the mass import of temporary workers from India by the IT businesses has seriously impacted quality of work The main aim of the large businesses AND the govt has been to keep costs down at the expense of quality and American workers. I also see increased age discrimination and ironically I see Indians who are now citizens, being laid off when they are in their later years. b) I must say legal immigration, including those from India, has resulted in very positive impact on certain aspects of living standards and American education. I live in NJ and at least two townships would surely be bankrupt without the large influx of Indians even if they are H-1B!. They are mostly law abiding, education oriented, and peaceful which almost certainly boosted the finances of these places. Also, if you see recent statistics of Intel scholars in science, you would find that there are a significant number of Indian-Americans, although I must admit they probably are progeny of established scientists who nobody opposes anyway!! So just my random thoughts... Reply

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