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Nov
2013
6

Foreign Worker Visas Don’t Only Take Jobs from Americans, They Expedite the Offshoring Process

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A $34 million settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and India-based consulting and outsourcing company Infosys is putting the issue of H-1B visa abuse back into the spotlight.  The record fine was levied against the company’s Plano,TX location.  

Between 2010 and 2012 Infosys received 6,550 H-1B visas, the fourth highest total in the country.  Sadly, the visas are ripe for abuse, especially among technology companies which have turned the visa program into a way to train foreign workers in the U.S. at low cost and then send them back to their home country with new skills.

Ron Hira, public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, told ABC News,

“I think Americans would be shocked by that, at least I hope.  It’s government policy that is actually trying to speed up the offshoring of jobs.”

A Teamsters Nation post about new Economic Policy Institute data shows that the system is reserved for cheap labor and legalizes systematic outsourcing:

Foreign students in computer science now working in the U.S. are on average less talented than Americans, according to a study released in February by the Economic Policy Institute. But they are cheaper.

The EPI study concluded:

…employers prefer to hire foreign workers over similarly qualified U.S. workers, because legal loopholes in how the “prevailing wage” is calculated let them save on labor costs. The H-1B visa also ties workers to their employer, effectively rendering them captive for the duration of their visa.
What’s worse, U.S. employers don’t even have to try to hire qualified Americans for high-tech jobs before hiring someone from overseas.

And there’s something even more sinister at work:  the H-1B worker learns the job and then rotates back to the home country and takes the work with him, another EPI report found. The top 10 companies using H-1B visas ALL have major operations overseas.

A look at the top 10 companies receiving H-1B visas shows just how broken the system is.  Of the top 10, only three (Microsoft, IBM and Deloitte) are headquartered in the United States.

1. Cognizant. H1-B Visas Received: 17,964
2. Tata Consultancy. H1-B Visas Received: 9,083
3. Wipro. H1-B Visas Received: 8,726
4. Infosys. H1-B Visas Received: 6,550
5. Accenture. H1-B Visas Received: 5,799
6. Microsoft. H1-B Visas Received: 4,766
7. IBM. H1-B Visas Received: 3,770
8. Larsen & Toubro. H1-B Visas Received: 3,286
9. HCL. H1-B Visas Received: 3,074
10. Deloitte. H1-B Visas Received: 2,850

Immigration reform talks cooled off after coming to a head this summer. In the deal that appeared to be taking shape before the sequester and government shutdown snatched the public’s consciousness, the technology sector sought an increase in the number of allowable H-1B visas, with some industry leaders such as Bill Gates asking for unlimited visas.  But at a time when the economy is barely growing and pre-recession norms look more like far-fetched fantasies than flcikers at the end of the tunnel, this brazen approach to bucking American workers needs to be reigned in. The government may understand this, if a recent Economic Times article out of India suggesting the top 10 H-1B recipients could soon find themselves under investigation is any indication. We can only hope.

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