H-1B Visa Process: Something Has to Give, but What?

Ann All

The number of applications exceeded the number of available H-1B visas on the first day the U.S. government began accepting the applications, providing clear evidence that something has to change -- though it's less clear than ever whether that means simply upping the number of visas allowed or fundamentally altering the system for awarding them.


Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) are in the latter camp, and earlier this week introduced a sweeping reform bill called he H-1B and L-1 Visa Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 2007.


Among its provisions: requiring all employers of H-1B workers to pledge they've first made a good-faith effort to find American workers to fill positions; requiring employers to advertise job openings for 30 days on the Department of Labor's Web site before making H-1B visa applications; barring employers from advertising positions only to H-1B holders; and changing the existing formula for calculating the "prevailing wage" so H-1B salaries would be on a par with those of American workers.


The bill would restrict companies with 50 or more workers from employing more than half of their staff through H-1B visas. And it would increase the Department of Labor's ability to police the program, by giving the agency the ability to conduct random audits on employers, among other enforcement tools.


Though we probably won't win any popularity contests for saying so, none of these provisions seem unreasonable to us. Sure, they will require companies that want to employ more H-1B workers to jump through more hoops, but the end result should be an improved process that will benefit everyone -- except companies that have been willfully trying to scam the system.


Many H-1B opponents charge that employers use the program as a way to hire workers that are not paid as well as their American colleagues -- and there seems to be truth in that, based upon a recent Government Accountability Office report. So why not make salaries more equitable? Giving the Department of Labor more authority also appears to be a no-brainer, based on evidence of lax oversight of the program. Why should any company be allowed to advertise jobs to only one demographic, whether it's a certain ethnic group or an H-1B visa holder?


Of course, this legislation doesn't mean that Congress shouldn't also consider raising the current cap. We'd like to see that addressed as well.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 5, 2007 11:27 AM jake leone jake leone  says:
We don't need to raise the cap, we need to stop the abuse of foreign IT offshoring companies. Foreign IT offshoring companies are using 70% or more of the h-1b Visas, in order to train workers and ship them back home. The h-1b program is taking more jobs away from the U.S. each year, than it could ever hope to bring in.This program is in bad need of a complete reform, before it guts this countries IT industry.Don't believe me, read up, here are the links:Businessweek: The h-1b program is a "conduit to offshoring" http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/feb2007/db20070208_553356.htm MSNBC: "Work visas may work against the U.S." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17048048/ Bill gates doesn't give XXXX about the U.S. worker, read up on how he sticks it to his own Microsoft employees: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2007/03/30/EDGRJN7CFB1.DTL 70% (or more) of the 65,000 available h-1b visas are being used by foreign offshore outsourcing companies. These foreign companies are using the Visas to train their workers in the U.S., and then ship them back home to continue the IT offshore outsourcing process. Companies are using the h-1b program to help them setup foreign offices, development groups of all sizes, and divisions. H-1b workers are paid 20% less than their U.S. citizen counterpart. That's less tax money, then the company sends the worker back to India (usually), where he doesn't pay a dime in U.S. taxes, and proceeds to build a offshore development group that further removes U.S. jobs. Companies such as Microsoft and Oracle are actually just trying to escape the high infrastructure cost (8 trillion dollars worth) of the United States. Half an engineer's salary is taxes. Taxes that pay Social Security to help our senior citizens, that keep the roads up, that assist our farmers, and taxes that are being used to defend the rest of the world from harm. The U.S. department of labor has stated that companies can hire an h-1b worker over a U.S. citizen, even if the U.S. worker is just as qualified/capable as the foreign worker. In open testimony before the U.S. congress, a job applicant called an agency to see if she could apply for a programming job on the east coast. The congress members were shocked to hear that the agency would not consider her for a job, because she could not be sponsored with an h-1b visa. The George Bush Department of Labor took no action against the company, even though most americans would consider this a clear act of bigotry against the U.S. citizen. And the reason is clear, most h-1b visas are used to offshore U.S. jobs, not to create U.S. jobs. All over the IT workplace, U.S. citizens are facing open discrimination, simply because their point of origin happens to be the United States. There is an onslought of bigotry being perpetrated by industry against the working U.S. citizen.So even if you complained about your company prefering to hire a h-1b workers, you wouldn't have a leg to stand on in court. And Even if you applied for a job and were the best candidate, it could "legally" be taken by a worker from another country, and you "the american citizen" can stay on the unemployment line. Reply
Apr 5, 2007 6:06 PM char char  says:
This bill will cut the number of H-1Bs granted to body shops (India consulting firms do business in the US) and make more available to US companies. Over the past few years, the publicized violators of the H-1B program have been India businesses doing business in the US. Reply
Apr 6, 2007 11:51 AM Dave Dave  says:
The purpose of the H1-B visa program is to import Cheap Slave Labor to replace American citizen workers.Anyone who is in favor of H1-B is a criminal. Reply
Apr 6, 2007 3:35 PM Ha Ha  says:
JakeThere is no shortage of ballplayers in US then why do Major league teams need foreign ball players???Literally everyone can play ball!!!Also foreign Minor league ball players are not paid prevailing wages and speak NO English but can get their visas/greencards in 6 months!!A highly paid foreign PhD from a top US School has to wait for 6-7 years to a greencard and renew visas almost every year!! Reply
Apr 6, 2007 6:06 PM jake leone jake leone  says:
I have no problem with issuing qualified people Green Cards, with the intent to become citizens. But loyalty to the principle of this country cannot be bought. We have worked hard, and many lives have been lost, for the sake of civil rights. This program clearly encourages discrimination against the U.S. worker, and so is against the principles that many americans live by.Also, your analogy of proffessional ball-players, hold no weight. Most (70%) of the h-1b Visas are being used for rather mundane work. Most of the h-1b Visas are being used for on the job training. Most of the h-1b Visas are being used to remove jobs from U.S.What I don't like is the fact that most of the 65,000, bachelors degree h-1b Visas, are being used for foreign IT off-shoring firms, with the intent to train people and then send them back home to continue the offshoring process.I don't have a problem with 20,000 Masters degree or higher h-1b Visas. If all the h-1b Visas, were for Master degree or higher, I would not be commenting on this program.I have no problem with most of the other immigration programs. And, for the most part, I like the Green Card program. Reply
Apr 6, 2007 6:38 PM haha haha  says:
The delays in Greencard process have around since 2 years and not a single attempt to fix it.Yes, H1b visa has its issues but it is the only alternative for many. Most retrictionists use reports from IEEE and Programmers Guild to push their Anti Immigrant agenda blocking High Skilled Immigration reform.Does it take 2 years to realise that the Greencard program is broken and needs urgent fix! Diversity and Freedom brings in new ideas and innovation!Just visit any school close by, over 50% of students in Math, Science and Engineering are foreign students and many of the students are on scholarships from local tax payers money. Reply
Apr 7, 2007 10:08 AM Mark C. Mark C.  says:
The H-1B has become a scandal, it should be scaled down, not increased. Rampant corporate greed has used the H-1B to undercut the wages of the US worker.As such, this has a stifling effect on young talent that may choose a high tech education and career. Reply
May 18, 2007 3:38 PM Larissa Larissa  says:
First do away with the Diversity lottery for green card -that acomplishes nothing. Give them to U.S. Phd.s and Masters in Math, Science and Engineering. That accomplishes something. Reply
May 31, 2007 12:45 PM Thomas P Thomas P  says:
I am laughing out aloud here looking at these corporate morons. Initially they supported the bill because they thought they can get away with just increasing the number of H-1b outsourcing visas. Now that the secret is out and some of our good senators started to ask questions about it, the industry is on its heels. They are now crying foul, all the wailing and crying has started.It is good that this debate has brought the real secrets about the H-1b program out into the open so that more Americans become aware about this mischief.The Indian outsourcing companies not only pay slave wages to these h1-b employees, they abuse them all over. Companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro are bringing in people from India and paying them almost 20 -25% below market rates. These employees are not allowed to stay in USA for more than a few years so that they can be rotated back to India for a fresh batch. In this way more and more employess are getting on site training and more work is getting sent back to india.Hardly any of these H-1b are given chance to apply for greencards and become US residents. This is a double whammy. It drives down wages for all local US citizens and also prevents these H1-bs to integrate into the American society and contribute more to the American system. In the mean time students are not willing to take up computer science or Engineering becuase of these low wages that these people have forces on the industry.This is how these companies are making bulk of their profits.These companies have no oversight and right now are abusing and exploiting every loophole there is.Recently The senator from Maine Susan collins wrote to the Immigration department saying that the investigations by a Maine Newspaper found that some of these Indian companies are opening a namesake office in Maine so that they can put this address in their H-1b applications. The reason being that prevailing wages are lower in Maine than in states like California or Texas. Once thet H-1b visas are approved, these employees are then posted to positions in other states. The investigative journalist went to some of the bogus locations given as addresses and found that there was no one there and there was just a mail forwarding service there. There was not even a single employee there. The list of abuses goes on and onMore scary details about this immigration bill is here for those interested. I read this and said GOD SAVE OUR COUNTRY. If all of us dont wake up and do not do something, these politicians will turn this great land into a third world dumpster pretty soon. http://lonestartimes.com/2007/05/31/the-immigration-bill-the-closer-you-look-the-scarier-it-gets/ Reply

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